Break towercos duopoly

January 05, 2019
Grace Poe

SENATOR Grace Poe is keen on breaking the towercos duopoly being pushed by Presidential Adviser on Information and Communications Technology Ramon Jacinto.

Poe, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said Jacinto’s planned duopoly on the construction of cell towers nationwide infringes on Globe and PLDT’s congressional franchises.

“We need as much towers as we can have, which are compliant with safety and environmental standards,” said Poe.

She urged the government bodies on board the telco issues to get their act together to avoid confusing the public.

“While the draft Memorandum Circular on the common tower was said to be duly heard, the strong opposition and the number of stakeholders against it should prompt the proponents to pause and listen to ensure it would be free from legal hurdles,” Poe said in a statement.

The lady senator further said restricting cell towers will be counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

She made as an example TowerXchange, an independent community for global tower industry, which she said showed that Asian markets with the highest number of cellular towers in the region implement a common tower policy that allows for more than two TowerCos.

As early as October 2018, Poe had slammed the plan of Jacinto.

“Dito sa cell towers, mayroon kasing isang nag-suggest sa Presidente yata o sa DICT na dapat ay isang kompanya o dalawang kompanya lang ang puwedeng magpatayo ng cell towers. Kalokohan ‘yon,” Poe stressed during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Service.

“Dapat kung sinong puwedeng magtayo ng cell towers, basta nasa regulasyon, ay magtayo para naman walang monopolya nito. Kung maraming cell towers, mas gaganda ang signal natin,” she insisted.

It was learned that Jacinto allegedly was the one who suggested to President Rodrigo Duterte to craft a policy that will mandate two independent tower companies registered with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to build and share their towers for use of the existing telco firms as well as a prospective new major player in the industry within the first four years of its implementation.

This was met by jeers by officials of existing telcos who insisted on building their own towers and urged the government to cut bureaucracy to break the limitations in their tower improvements.

In a separate but similar position against towercos duopoly, Globe Telecom and Smart insisted the proposal of Jacinto will violate their congressional franchise.