The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) must assure tower companies to build common towers in rural areas, according to an Internet rights advocacy group.
Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla said the rollout of the cell towers and supporting infrastructure will help improve the delivery of Internet and mobile services in the provinces.
Galla said in an interview on Wednesday, “They should add more towers. Common towers will have the opportunity to expand the ICT services as well as data and mobile Internet services to the rural areas. The biggest need is in the rural areas.”
With at least 2,500 sites, which are mostly owned by the DICT and other government agencies, were identified as locations for the common towers.
Major telco firm Globe Telecom has just signed a memorandum of understanding with ISOC Infrastructure Inc. and Malaysia-based edotco Group Sdn Bhd. to build 150 cell sites within the Calabarzon region, comprised of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
“It’s disappointing if the 2,500 cell sites are going to be mainly located in urban areas. These areas already have their towers built by the telcos,” added Galla.
The Internet rights advocate likewise backed the decision of DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. liberalizing the number of companies that can build the towers across the country.
“There is definitely a need for us to bootstrap our own ICT and if the government decides to prioritize entry in the rural areas that’s where the families of our farmers and fisherfolk will have access. It will definitely be an economic gamechanger in the provinces,” Galla added.
The DICT has signed agreements with 23 tower companies to build 50,000 cell towers within seven to 10 years.
The department aims to finalize the guidelines on the common tower initiative by September.