Solon denounces cell site duopoly

October 03, 2018
Ariel Casilao

THE  ‘Makabayan Bloc’ in the House of Representatives strongly opposes the plan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to have only two independent companies allowed to become the country’s tower providers under its proposed common tower policy.

According to Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, it may only lead to the government committing a mistake if it would insist on imposing the system of the DICT.

He said it is the belief of their group in Congress that government itself should lead in constructing and operating telecom tower or mobile and internet cell sites instead of delegating it to private companies.

The solon stressed his group is doubtful if telecommunication service in the country would improve if the ownership or operation of the cell sites would be given to a new, independent private company instead of to the telcos themselves as what the DICT has been pushing for under its new policy.

“What we urge is that pure government efforts to construct and maintain (telecom towers). Do not delegate that to another private entity that will eventually lead to monopoly or duopoly,” said Casilao.

Presidential adviser on economic affairs Ramon Jacinto had earlier been asserting that it would be for the benefit of the country’s telecom sector if a separate private entity would be the one to take charge when it comes to cell site towers.

According to Jacinto, of the target 50,000 new telecoms towers that can be constructed once the policy is implemented, only two companies at first would be given permits to operate.

Casilao said this could only result in a ‘duopoly’ with the planned entry of new and separate entities in the field of telecommunication in the country.

The partylist lawmaker stressed this could add to more expenses on the part of the Filipinos since the independent tower operator would pass the burden of paying their construction and operation cost to the people.

“These two new independent players that will be tapped to carry out the implementation of the common tower policy will just dictate on the price of their services, which may be very disadvantageous to the public interest, and that is really very unfortunate,” added Casilao.

Industry giant American Tower Corp. chief business officer in Asia Manish Kasliwal and Telenor Norway have also expressed opposition to DICT’s plan to allow only two independent companies to be the country’s tower providers.

They maintained that the government should not limit the number of companies that wish to enter the independent tower provider sector in the country.