[Reproduced below is the full text of Department Circular No. 008 of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), setting forth the policy guidelines on the sharing and co-location of telco towers in the Philippines.]
DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 008
MAY 29, 2020
RE : POLICY GUIDELINES ON THE CO-LOCATION AND SHARING OF PASSIVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TOWER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR MACRO CELL SITES
WHEREAS, it is the declared policy of the State to ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable, and secure ICT services; to promote the development and widespread use of emerging ICT and to foster and accelerate the convergence of ICT facilities, and to foster an ICT sector policy environment that will promote the broad market-led development of the ICT sectors, a level playing field, partnership between the public and private sectors, strategic alliance with foreign investors and balanced investments between high-growth and economically-depressed areas;
WHEREAS, as part of its functions and responsibilities dealing with communications pursuant to S15(a)(2 and 6), Republic Act (RA) No. 10844, otherwise known as the “Department of Information and Communications Technology Act of 2015,” in relation to S28, RA 8792, otherwise known as the “Electronic Commerce Act of 2000,” the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), together with its component units, offices, divisions, services, as well as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as its attached agency, are statutorily directed to aggressively promote and implement a policy environment and regulatory or non-regulatory framework that shall lead to the substantial reduction of costs of broadband and wireless accessibility, and to establish a domestic internet exchange system to facilitate strategic access for the government, amongst the agencies thereof, and the general public, for the speedier flow of locally generated internet traffic within the Philippines;
WHEREAS, other countries have adopted policies for the sharing of relevant infrastructure within and across different sectors that led to the development of robust industries for shared ICT infrastructure resulting in a more comprehensive coverage and better quality of service for telecommunications, broadband, and other ICT services, to effectively address the growing connectivity needs of their people, especially in the unserved and underserved areas, thereby minimizing the unnecessary duplication of ICT infrastructure and achieving significant reduction in delays and costs for ICT infrastructure deployment, while at the same time freeing up much needed capital for use in other strategic investments on the part of mobile network operators and other ICT service providers;
WHEREAS, there is a need to deepen wireless network capacity through such activities as increasing the number of cell sites and other ICT infrastructure in the different regions of the Philippines, in view of the growing number of mobile internet users and the constant rise of usage volume per mobile end user and mobile data traffic throughout the entire country;
WHEREAS, despite the lapse of several decades since the deregulation of the telecommunications industry under RA 7925, otherwise known as the “Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines,” private sector initiatives have been unable to address the general public’s need for adequate ICT coverage and quality of service resulting in the continued proliferation of unserved and underserved areas in the Philippines, with the country lagging behind in terms of the number and coverage of telecommunications towers and related ICT infrastructure, as well as in terms of quality of service, as compared to its ASEAN neighbors;
WHEREAS, RA 10929, otherwise known as the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act,” declares it the policy of the state to promote an environment for the development of structures to ensure the availability and accessibility of reliable and secure internet access suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation and allows the shared use of ICT infrastructure under its Free Public Internet Access Program (FPIAP);
WHEREAS, as part of the overall ICT sector policy environment, the DICT encourages, fosters, and promotes the broad market-led development of private sector providers of passive ICT infrastructure assets, with sufficient capacity for existing conditions and expandability to meet future demands, that adequately provide shared and common facilities to and among telecommunications and/or information service providers, pursuant to appropriate co-location and sharing arrangements under fair, reasonable, competitive, transparent, non-exclusive, and non-discriminatory terms in accordance with law, for purposes of increasing and enhancing ICT coverage and quality of service across the entire country, inclusive of all its unserved and underserved areas, in order to provide quality, efficient, fast, affordable, reliable, resilient, and secure ICT services to the public and the Philippine government;
WHEREAS, the Department of Justice, in its Opinion dated 22 April 2019, opined that, due to their rendition of service to a limited clientele, tower companies may not be considered as public utilities for which the requirement of a congressional franchise or certificate of public convenience and necessity may not be applicable;
WHEREAS, the DICT shall undertake the establishment of infrastructure and such other program requirements necessary to provide free internet access in public places throughout the country, and prescribe policies and regulations for the timely and effective implementation of RA 10929;
WHEREAS, in line with its statutory mandate as the primary policy, implementing and administrative agency for the national ICT development agenda, the DICT is empowered to (a) formulate and implement policies and guidelines to promote the development and use of ICT, with due consideration to the advantages of convergence and emerging technologies, (b) prescribe rules and regulations for the establishment, operation and maintenance of ICT infrastructures in unserved and underserved areas, and (c) support the promotion of trade and investment opportunities in the ICT sectors;
WHEREAS, the DICT shall likewise prescribe regulations or subscribe to acceptable standards in the installation, construction, maintenance, and operation of ICT infrastructure and equipment;
WHEREAS, the DICT is authorized to pursue measures to promote fair competition or more competition;
WHEREAS, the installation and operation of telecommunication and broadcast towers, facilities, equipment and services in such numbers as may be sufficient to connect the entire country is necessary in relation to the country’s development of a fast and reliable interconnectivity infrastructure, and likewise desirable considering that excess capacity from the private sector may be used to deliver supplemental internet access to users in the FPIAP areas;
WHEREAS, advancing the digital economy and improving connectivity across the country are among the priority areas in the government’s agenda and the Philippine’s long-term development plan;
WHEREAS, the propagation of ICT infrastructure is a priority area in view of its national and regional significance in impacting and benefitting more people in a wider area, and in view of its game-changing nature on the socio-economic fiber of the Philippines and the conduct of business in the country;
WHEREAS, accelerating ICT infrastructure development will form part of a solid foundation for reaching the country’s long-term vision;
WHEREAS, expanding economic opportunities in the industry and service sectors, as one of the strategies outlined in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, entails employment generation which will provide income to Filipino people and ensure availability of good quality products and services in the country at competitive prices;
WHEREAS, as part of its overall thrust under the FPIAP, the DICT may likewise consider the co-location of its active telecommunications equipment upon the common or shared telecommunications towers as part of its wireless backhaul network for purposes of establishing the connectivity needed for efficiently and effectively implementing its mandates under RA 10929, RA 10844, and relevant laws, orders, circulars, rules and regulations, and other issuances;
WHEREAS, the law mandates that technical solutions that can maintain or promote ease of access shall be prioritized and pursued;
WHEREAS, the law provides for specific timelines within which barangays, LGUs and NGAs shall process and approve licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations for the installation and operation of telecommunication, broadcast towers, facilities, equipment, and service;
WHEREAS, the DICT is tasked to issue the technical standards and operating guidelines to ensure that appropriate equipment, connectivity, and ICT platforms are established for interconnectivity infrastructure development;
WHEREAS, Proclamation No. 922, s. 2020, declared a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the country due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and enjoined all government agencies and LGUs to render full assistance and cooperation, and mobilize the necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate responses and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat;
WHEREAS, RA 11469, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” declared a State of National Emergency over the entire country in view of the continuing rise of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the serious threat to health, safety, security, and lives of our countrymen, the long-term adverse effects on their means of livelihood, and the severe disruption of economic activities;
WHEREAS, R.A. 11469 declared that there is an urgent need to immediately mobilize assistance in the provisions of basic necessities to families and individuals affected by the imposition of Community Quarantine, especially indigents and their families, undertake a program for recovery and rehabilitation, partner with the private sector and other stakeholders to deliver these measures and programs quickly and efficiently, and promote and protect the collective interests of all Filipinos in these challenging times;
WHEREAS, Executive Order (EO) No. 114, s. of 2020, issued by the President on 06 May 2020, which institutionalizes the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Paga-asa Program of the government, provides that infrastructure such as means of transport and communications, power resources, and irrigation facilities which support the operation and development of other sectors of the economy shall be developed in all the regions of the country;26
WHEREAS, in order to fast-track the country’s digital transformation and prepare the country for its transition to the “New Normal”, there is a need to expedite the roll-out of ICT infrastructures and facilities that could accommodate the increasing demand for connectivity and better quality of ICT services, especially in the unserved and underserved areas;
WHEREAS, in accordance with the agency rulemaking processes under Chapter 2, Book VII, Revised Administrative Code, and existing laws, rules and regulations, notices regarding the proposed policy on the subject of shared telecommunications towers and other passive ICT infrastructure have been circulated and published in order to afford all interested parties, inclusive of the local government units, civil society organizations, public sector, and the academe the opportunity to submit their views prior to the adoption of the policy. The DICT received and considered these comments, observations, drafts, proposals, and inputs submitted by interested parties from the public and private sector during the several rounds of public consultations and stakeholder’s meetings;
NOW, THEREFORE, in the exigency of service, in pursuit of public interest, and pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, rules, and regulations, this Circular is hereby issued, adopted, and promulgated:
Section 1. Title. This Circular shall be known as the “Policy Guidelines on the Co-Location and Sharing of Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure for Macro Cell Sites”.
Section 2. Policy Objectives. This Circular is being issued in accordance with the statutory objectives and mandates of the Department to
(a) foster an ICT sector policy environment that will promote the broad market-led development of the ICT sectors, a level playing field, partnership between the public and private sectors, strategic alliance with foreign investors and balanced investments between high-growth and economically-depressed areas;
(b) aggressively promote and implement a policy environment and regulatory or non-regulatory framework that shall lead to the substantial reduction of costs of broadband and wireless accessibility by the government, its departments, agencies, bureaus, offices, GOCCs, LGUs, other public instrumentalities, and the general public;
(c) promote an environment for the development of structures to ensure the availability and accessibility of reliable and secure internet access suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation;
(d) ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable, and secure ICT services;
(e) promote the development and widespread use of emerging ICT;
(f) foster and accelerate the convergence of ICT facilities;
(g) establish a domestic internet exchange system to facilitate strategic access for the government, amongst the agencies thereof, and the general public, for the speedier flow of locally generated internet traffic within the Philippines;
(h) allow the shared use of passive ICT infrastructure as a component part of the government’s FPIAP) in order to provide free internet access in public places throughout the country;
(i) promote the development and use of ICT with due consideration to the advantages of convergence and emerging technologies;
(j) prescribe regulations or subscribe to acceptable standards in the installation, construction, maintenance, and operation of ICT infrastructure and equipment;
(k) establish, operate, and maintain ICT infrastructures in unserved and underserved areas;
(l) support the promotion of trade and investment opportunities in the ICT sectors; and
(m) act as the lead agency to implement the provisions of RA 10929, RA 10844, RA 8792, and other relevant laws, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Section 3. Definition of Terms. For purposes of this Circular, the following terms are defined, to wit:
(a) AFP refers to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
(b) ARTA refers to the Anti-Red Tape Authority.
(c) Convergence shall mean the interface between and among various telephony, radio, video, broadcasting and multimedia infrastructure, devices and services, enabling users or subscribers to communicate with one another.
(d) CPCN refers to the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued by the NTC.
(e) CSC refers to the Civil Service Commission.
(f) DICT or Department refers to the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
(g) DICT ROCS refers to the DICT Regional Operations Coordination Service.
(h) DTI refers to the Department of Trade and Industry.
(i) FPIAP refers to the Free Public Internet Access Program under RA 10929 and its IRR.
(j) GOCC refers to Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations.
(k) ICT or Information and Communications Technology refers to the totality of electronic means to access, create, collect, store, process, receive, transmit, present, and disseminate information.
(l) IRR refers to implementing rules and regulations.
(m) ITC or Independent Tower Company refers to a private entity duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines, registered with the DICT as an ITC, and engaged in the business of establishing or operating one or more Shared PTTIs, that is neither a private sector MNO nor a “Related Party” thereto, as defined by the rules and regulations issued by the SEC.
(n) ITC Certificate of Registration refers to the registration document issued by the
DICT to qualified private entities which shall grant them the privilege to own, construct, manage or operate a PTTI as an ITC.
(o) JMC refers to Joint Memorandum Circular.
(p) Legacy PTTI refers to an existing or operating PTTI as of the effectivity date of this Circular, which has not been converted to a Shared PTTI.
(q) Legislative Franchise refers to a privilege conferred by Congress, authorizing an entity to engage in a certain type of telecommunications service.
(r) LGU refers to the Local Government Unit.
(s) MNO or Mobile Network Operator refers to a duly-registered entity authorized to operate in one or more of the telecommunications categories in accordance with the Legislative Franchise and CPCN” that grants it the privilege of engaging in the business of being a telecommunications entity that provides wireless telecommunications services, with or without value-added service, to the public, with the ability to own, lease or operate all the active and passive elements of the telecommunications network, such as radio spectrum allocations, wireless networks, backhaul infrastructure, marketing and repair organization, billing and customer care, and provisioning computer systems, among others, subject to the provisions of applicable laws, rules and regulations, and other relevant issuances. The term includes Telecommunications Companies (TelCos), Wireless Service Providers (WSPs), Wireless Carrier Service Providers (WCSPs), Cellular Companies (CellCos), Cellular Service Providers (CSPs), Mobile Network Carriers (MNCs), and other similar commercial entities.
(t) NGA means National Government Agency.
(u) NICTAI or National ICT Assets Index refers to the comprehensive, updated, and detailed inventory list or index of all ICT assets and infrastructure existing in all NGAs, including the GOCCs, LGUs, and the private sector.
(v) NTC refers to the National Telecommunications Commission.
(w) PCAB refers to the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board.
(x) PCC refers to the Philippine Competition Commission.
(y) PNP refers to the Philippine National Police.
(z) PTTI or Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure shall refer to all types of outdoor non-electronic telecommunications infrastructure or civil works, including but not limited to towers, masts, poles, and other similar infrastructure, as well as the facilities auxiliary thereto—built either on the ground or installed on buildings, walls, rooftops or other edifice—that are utilized for purposes of mounting antennas, transmitters/receivers, radio frequency modules, and other radio communications systems as macro cell sites for the rendition of ICT services in the telecommunications network. The term shall include: (a) the ducts, ladders, arresters, mounts, cable entrances, and the cable trays of the PTTI; (b) the shared fiber-optic and/or radio frequency cables or other similar equipment assemblies that make up the fronthaul; (c) its appurtenant shelters, sheds, cabins, cabinets or other similar housing for the base-band units, radio units, and related electronic equipment, as well as the cable entrances thereof; (d) its power supply and back-up power management systems; and (c) all other ancillary facilities as thereto may be necessary and pertinent for its proper, resilient, and continuous operation as a PTTI.
(aa) RO refers to the Regional Office.
(bb) SEC refers to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(cc) Secretary refers to the Secretary of the DICT, who may delegate his/her functions under this Circular to a duly designated Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary.
(dd) Shared PTTI refers to PTTIs which are non-exclusive and are accessible for common use in accordance with Title III of this Circular.
Section 4. Official Language. In accordance with 57, Art. XIV of the Constitution and the provisions of existing laws, English or Filipino shall be the principal language for all agreements, applications, requests, waivers, documents, reports, technical specifications, manuals of procedure, terms of reference, instruction manuals, system languages, notices, signs, safety guidelines, relevant documents, and all other forms of communications and instructions, written or otherwise, utilized for all ICT infrastructure assets, and all those by, between, and among persons and entities in the Philippine ICT sector; Provided That, the foregoing communications and instructions may be supplemented with accurate translations into foreign or regional languages appended as subsidiary attachments thereto. The principal language shall prevail over the foreign or regional language for purposes of interpretation and construction.
Section 5. Prohibition against predatory or anti-competitive activities in the PTTI Industry. No ITC or MNO shall, directly or indirectly, engage in any predatory or anti-competitive act, practice or transaction in relation to the construction, management, operation or maintenance of PTTIs. The DICT shall coordinate with the PCC for the proper enforcement of this provision in accordance with RA 10667, otherwise known as the “Philippine Competition Act,” its IRR, and pertinent laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and other issuances.
Independent Tower Companies
Section 6. Shared PTTIs as a Pioneering Industry in the Philippines. The DICT hereby fosters and encourages the growth and development of ITCs as a pioneering sector for the birth and development of a robust ICT environment of Shared PTTIs with sufficient capacity for existing conditions and expandability to meet future demands, in line with the overall objective of enhancing wireless network coverage and quality of ICT services across the entire country, including its underserved and unserved areas.
Section 7. Registration of ITCs; ITC Certificate of Registration. Except for MNOs with Legislative Franchises and CPCNs, no entity shall own, construct, manage or operate PTTI unless otherwise granted an ITC Certificate of Registration. The DICT may issue an ITC certificate of Registration only to qualified applicant-entities for the ownership, construction, management or operation of PTT’Is in the Philippines. The ITC Certificate of Registration shall be valid for five (5) years, renewable for the same period upon proper application filed within three (3) months prior to the certificate’s expiration.
The DICT reserves the discretionary right to deny an application for ITC registration or the renewal thereof. The DICT may likewise exercise the right to conduct administrative proceedings for the suspension, cancellation or revocation of the ITC Certificate of Registration for violation of relevant laws, departmental orders, circulars, rules and regulations, or other justifiable reasons.
Section 8. Minimum Qualifications for ITCs. No entity shall be registered as an ITC unless it has the relevant construction experience, registration, license, and financial capacity of, or equivalent to, a contractor falling under Category A, or higher, of the PCAB. Entities interested to register as an ITC shall fulfill the application requirements in this Circular, and shall faithfully comply with the directives of the Department.
Section 9. Contents of the Application for ITC Registration or Renewal Thereof. The applicant shall submit to the DICT its application for registration or renewal as an ITC, complete with the following requirements:
(a) Duly executed and notarized ITC Registration Application Form, the contents of which shall be as prescribed by the DICT.
(b) SEC documents of the applicant, its joint venture partners, and all Related Parties thereto, if any:
- i. Certificate of Registration
- ii. Articles of Incorporation
- iii. By-Laws
- iv. Latest General Information Sheet
- v. Latest Audited Financial Statements
(c) Valid business permits:
- i. Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) registration
- ii. Mayor’s Permit
(d) Board Resolution or notarized Secretary’s Certificate authorizing the filing of the application.
(e) Notarized Corporate Certification indicating that no MNO or “Related Party” thereto, as defined by the rules and regulations issued by the SEC, owns, directly or indirectly, any equity, whether in whole or in part, in the ITC.
(f) Acceptable documentary evidence indicating that the applicant, or any of its joint venture partners or affiliates, has the relevant construction experience, registration, license, and financial capacity of, or equivalent to, a contractor falling under Category A, or higher, of the PCAB.
(g) Official receipt issued by the DICT Cashier on the payment of the application processing fee.
(h) Such other document as may be necessary or required by the DICT.
The form and contents of the ITC Registration Application Form may be revised or updated by the Department, from time to time, as may be necessary.
Section 10. Transparency. For purposes of ensuring consumer protection and welfare, fostering competition, and discouraging anti-competitive practices, all ITCs shall maintain transparency in their transactions with the MNOs and the DICT.
Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure
Section 11. Guidelines on PTTI Sharing. The Department’s policy on the development, construction, management, and operation of shared passive ICT infrastructure assets in relation to PTTIs in the telecommunications network shall be as follows:
(a) Shared PTTIS. for purposes of providing quality, efficient, fast, affordable, reliable, resilient, and secure ICT services, all PTTIs built, improved, renovated, retrofitted, upgraded or updated after the effectivity of this Circular shall provide ample access slots for all MNOs and the DICT to co-locate, mount or install their respective antennas, transmitters, receivers, radio frequency modules, radio-communications systems, and other similar active ICT equipment, units, and implements, for the rendition of their respective telecommunications and ICT services.
(b) PTTI Sharing Agreement. All private sector agreements for co-locating in Shared PTTIS shall: (i) provide for fair, cost-based, reasonable, competitive, transparent, non-exclusive, and non-discriminatory terms, conditions, fees, and charges; (ii) be complemented by appropriate service level agreements compliant with global and domestic industry standards; and (iii) be subject at all times to pertinent laws and departmental circulars, rules and regulations, and other issuances. All private sector MNOs shall be offered the same or reasonably equivalent terms, conditions, fees, and charges for co-locating or sharing in the same PTTI.
(C) Charges and Fees Monitoring. The DICT shall periodically monitor the charges and fees imposed by the PTTI owners or operators. If the public interest so warrants, the DICT may, directly or through the NTC as its attached agency, undertake such regulatory actions as may be necessary pursuant to RA 10844 and other existing laws, circulars, rules and regulations, and issuances.
The PTTI owner or operator shall, within ten (10) days from receipt of an order or directive from the DICT, furnish a report in writing supported by accurate records, setting forth the detailed and itemized charges and fees in Philippine currency, and other terms and conditions, upon which access slots in its PTTIs shall be, or is being, provided.
(d) Mandated PTTI Sharing. All installations made after the effectivity of this Circular, of private sector antennas, transmitters, receivers, radio frequency modules, radio communications systems, and other active ICT equipment, units, and implements for macro cell sites, as well as all improvements, renovations, upgrades or updates thereof, shall be co-located in Shared PTTIs, except as may be allowed by the DICT upon a clear showing of meritorious grounds, which are not contrary to departmental policies.
(e) Regulatory Compliance. The installation, construction, maintenance, and operation of all private sector PTTIs, and of the telecommunications electronic equipment mounted thereon or used in conjunction therewith, shall strictly conform to all applicable laws, codes, rules and regulations, and other issuances on public health, public safety and security, civil aviation, environmental protection, and other laws of general application, including but not limited to the following:
- Laws, rules and regulations, and policies relating to the standards of good engineering practices, inclusive of
- National Building Code of the Philippines;
- Philippine Electrical Code;
- Philippine Electronics Code;
- National Structural Code of the Philippines;
- RA 10844, its IRR, and other related issuances;
- RA 10929, its IRR, and other related issuances;
- RA 10173, its IRR, and other related issuances;
- EO 893, s. 2010, and related issuances;
- The National Cybersecurity Plan, and related issuances; and
- The provisions of this Circular, and other departmental policies and standards.
(f) NTC Type-Approval and DICT Registration. All telecommunications electronic equipment shall be covered by the appropriate type-approval or other permit documents as may be required by the NTC, and duly registered with the DICT, prior to being mounted or installed on PTTIS.
(g) Site Co-Location of PTTIS. The DICT may permit the co-location of PTTIS in the same or nearby sites, locations or arcas in line with the objectives of this Circular, inclusive of enhancing wireless network coverage, and ensuring sufficient capacity and expandability, in order to meet the existing and future demands for connectivity and quality of service in the country.
(h) Insurance Coverage. The construction or operation of cach PTTI shall be provided with sufficient and adequate insurance coverage against construction and operational risks and liabilities, such as, but not limited to, contractor’s all risk, fire, motor vehicle, workmen’s compensation, third-party liability or comprehensive general liability insurance, with coverage and amounts that are customary and standard for the industry.
(i) Security and Safety; Maintenance. PTTI owners or operators shall exercise utmost diligence and deploy such effective measures as may be necessary for the maintenance and protection of their respective PTTIs against natural or man-made hazards and threats, such as, but not limited to, theft, robbery, arson, pilferage, malicious mischief, fire, power outages, power surges, static electricity, lightning, and the like. PTTI owners or operators shall avoid, or otherwise minimize and remediate, any injury or damage resulting therefrom.
(j) Public Order, National Security, and Sovereignty. All PTTIs shall be constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with all laws, rules, regulations, and directives relating to public order and national security. All PTTI owners or operators shall ensure that adequate security measures are in place to protect the PTTI and its site against threats, such as terrorism, sabotage, and other acts against national security and public order.
Within the framework of applicable laws, rules and regulations, and other issuances, all PTTI owners, operators, and tenants shall extend full cooperation to the government’s initiatives against espionage, terrorism, subversive acts or other unlawful activity.
(k) National ICT Assets Index. All PTTIS owned, constructed, managed or operated pursuant to this Circular shall be periodically monitored by the DICT and shall be included in the comprehensive, updated, and detailed list of NICTAI. For this purpose, the DICT may direct the installation of appropriate equipment on PTTIs to mark the locations thereof.
Section 12. PTTI Registry. The DICT shall maintain, and periodically update, an accurate registry record of all PTTIs owned, constructed, managed or operated by MNOs and ITCs.
Section 13. Uniform Accounting System; Chart of Accounts. All PTTI owners or operators shall utilize and conform to a uniform financial reporting system in accordance with the Philippine Financial Reporting Standards, the Philippine Accounting Standards, and other applicable accounting laws, and rules and regulations.
Each PTTI owner or operator shall keep and maintain an accurate and detailed chart of accounts containing the terms, conditions, fees, and charges, and all other relevant accounting information for each of its PTTIs, copies of which shall likewise be filed with the DICT’s PTTI Registry at the end of each quarter.
Section 14. Visitorial Inspection; Request for Information. Each PITI owner or operator shall make its PTTIs, sites, offices, facilities, and all documentation and records thereto related, available to the DICT for reasonable periodic inspections, evaluation or assessment as to readiness, structural integrity, and conformity to applicable standards, laws, orders, circulars, rules and regulations, and other issuances; Provided That, the inspection, evaluation or assessment shall, as far as practicable, be conducted in a manner that will cause minimal disruption to the construction or operations thereof; Provided further that, copies of all information, documents, agreements, reports, permits, drawings, and specifications relevant to the subject matter of the inspection, evaluation or assessment shall likewise be furnished to the DICT upon its request; Provided finally that, in the conduct of inspections, evaluations or assessments, the DICT may enlist the assistance of relevant law enforcement and other government agencies within the framework of existing laws, orders, circulars, rules and regulations, and other issuances.
The Department’s inspection, evaluation, and assessment powers shall be deemed written into, and shall constitute an integral part of, any and all contracts involving the ownership, construction, management or operation of PTTIs, its sites, offices, facilities, and all documentation and records thereto related.
Section 15. Right-of-Way. for purposes consistent with the goals of this Circular, the DICT shall provide reasonable assistance in obtaining access or right-of-way to public or private land as may be necessary for the installation, construction, maintenance or operation of Shared PTTIS.
The Shared PTTI owner or operator may gain access or right-of-way to public land upon approval by the concerned NGA or LGU. The access or right-of-way to private land may be obtained either: (a) through direct negotiation and sale between the ITC and the private land owner; or (b) through any of the modes of acquisition between the government and the private land owner in accordance with RA 10752, otherwise known as “The Right-of-Way Act” and its IRR.
In using the access or right of way, the PTTI owner or operator shall, at all times, avoid causing any injury to any person or property, and minimize any obstruction to public roads, railways, waterways, airways or any other public utility.
Section 16. Annual Reportorial Requirements for PTTI Owners and Operators. On or before the fifteenth (15) of January of every year, each PTTI owner or operator shall submit to the DICT, through the concerned DICT RO, a consolidated annual report on all its PTTIs within each region, indicating therein the ownership, status, location, tenancy, and other relevant particulars of each PTTI for the previous calendar year.
Section 17. Authority of the DICT. In accordance with the State’s policies of ensuring the security of critical ICT infrastructure, and of providing strategic, reliable, cost efficient, and citizen-centric information ICT infrastructure as instruments of good governance and global competitiveness, the DICT shall retain its authority to regulate the establishment, installation, construction, maintenance, and operation of PTTIs pursuant to the provisions of RA 10844, and other relevant laws, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Shared PTTIs and the Free Public Internet Access Program
Section 18. Shared PTTIs as critical components for Connectivity. Shared PTTIs are hereby declared as critical components for establishing connectivity, resilience, and reliability in the implementation of the FPIAP across the country. 45 In utilizing Shared PTTIs, ensuring universal coverage to implement the FPIAP, and to fulfill its mandate in administering the provisions of RA 10929, otherwise known as the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act,” RA 10844, and pertinent laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and issuances, the DICT may pursue any or all of the following activities:
(a) partner with NTC-registered private sector service providers for the delivery of internet connectivity for a reasonable fee, which connectivity, as a value-added service, may be acquired and utilized by the latter directly from satellites and other emerging technologies; 46 or
(b) undertake the creation, establishment, installation, maintenance, and operation of infrastructure, equipment, systems, platforms, applications, and such other FPIAP requirements necessary to effectively provide free internet access in public places throughout the country:
Section 19. Shared PTTIs and the FPIAP: Whenever deemed necessary and desirable in the public interest, the DICT may participate in the use of Shared PTTIs for its effective implementation of RA 10929 and its IRR, RA 10844 and its IRR, and other applicable laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Each Shared PTTI shall, in addition to the slots for the MNOs, have an access slot with ample capacity and availability upon which the DICT may install its antennas, transmitters, receivers, radio frequency modules, radio-communications systems, and other similar active ICT equipment, units, and implements for the ICT backbone and other communications network of the government, pursuant to appropriate arrangements in accordance with EO No. 301 s. 1987, EO 109 s. 2002, and other applicable laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and issuances; Provided That, no PTTI owner or operator shall offer or impose terms, conditions, fees, and charges to the DICT that are more onerous than those offered or imposed upon its private sector clients for the co-location of active ICT equipment in the same PTTI.
Permitting Process for the Construction and Operation of PTTIS.
Section 20. Shared PTTIs and Interconnectivity Infrastructure Development. All LGUs and NGAs shall strictly adhere to the timelines mandated by law for the processing, approval, renewal or extension of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorization to construct, install or operate Shared PTTIs in strict accordance with $15, RA 9485, as amended by RA 11032, as implemented by Rule X of ARTA-CSC-DTI JMC No. 2019-001, otherwise known as the “IRR of RA 11032″, and other applicable laws, circulars, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Section 21. Mandatory Timelines for Barangay, LGU, and NGA Permitting and Certification. In accordance with $15 of RA 9485, as amended by RA 11032, other applicable laws, circulars, rules and regulations, and issuances, the maximum time periods for processing and approving the application of an ITC for licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations to construct, install or operate its PTTIs shall be as follows:
- a total of seven (7) working days for those issued by the barangay;
- a total of seven (7) working days for those issued by LGUs; and
- seven (7) working days for those issued by NGAs.
When the approval of the appropriate local legislative body is necessary, a non-extendible period of twenty (20) working days is hereby prescribed.
Section 22. Mandatory Timelines for Homeowners and Other Community Clearances. In cases where homeowners and other community clearances are necessary, the officers of the homeowners association shall be given a maximum of ten (10) working days to refer the ITC’s application to the members of the association pursuant to $10(k) of RA 9904, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners Associations”; Provided That, a non-extendible period of thirty (30) working days is granted to the homeowners association to give its consent or disapproval; Provided further that, in case of disapproval, the granting authority shall notify the applicant or requesting party within the prescribed period of the reason/s for disapproval as well as remedial measures that may be taken by the applicant or requesting party.
Section 23. Allowable Extension of Time Periods. No extension of the maximum periods provided in this Title shall be allowed, except as provided under Rule X of the IRR of RA 11032.
Section 24. Automatic Approval Mechanism. All existing and future requirements and procedures utilized by the concerned LGUs and NGAs in relation to the processing of applications filed by ITCs for licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations to construct, install or operate its PTTIs shall be implemented in strict compliance with the mandatory timelines provided by law.
If the granting authority fails to approve or disapprove an ITC’s application for a license, clearance, permit, certification or authorization within the prescribed processing time, said application shall be deemed approved; Provided That, all required documents have been submitted and all required fees and charges have been paid. The acknowledgment receipt together with the official receipt for payment of all required fees issued to the ITC applicant shall be enough proof or has the same force and effect of a license, clearance, permit, certification or authorization under this automatic approval mechanism.”
Upon complaint together with the presentation of the acknowledgement receipt or official receipt, upon due investigation and verification that the applicant has indeed fully submitted all the necessary documents and paid all the required foes, the ARTA shall issue a declaration of completeness and order the concerned office or agency to issue the approval, extension or renewal of the license, clearance, permit, certification or authorization which is deemed automatically approved.50
Section 25. Monitoring Timeline Compliance. For purposes of data analytics and monitoring compliance with the timelines mandated by law, all ITCs shall copy furnish the DICT and its concerned DICT ROs with each duly completed application form and its supporting attachments as stamp received by the receiving unit of the LGU or NGA exercising jurisdiction over their PTTI site or location. The DICT and its DICT ROs shall monitor compliance with the timelines for the processing and approval of applications for licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorization to construct, install or operate shared PTTIS.
Section 26. Reportorial Requirements of the DICT RO and DICT ROCS. All DICT ROs shall coordinate with the PTTI owners or operators, NGA ROs, and LGUs in their respective regions, and submit, on or before the thirtieth (30′) of February of the year, an annual report on all PTTIs within their respective jurisdictions, indicating therein the status, locations, ownership, tenancy, and other relevant particulars and information for the previous calendar year.
These reports shall be submitted to the DICT ROCS, which shall then submit a consolidated report thereon to the Office of the Secretary by the thirtieth (30′) of March of the year.
The DICT ROCS and DICT ROs shall likewise submit such additional reports or documents as may be required by the Secretary or supervising Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary for the effective implementation of this Circular.
Section 27. Enforcement, Investigation, Institution of Appropriate Proceedings.Any violation or circumvention of the provisions of this Circular shall constitute sufficient grounds for the suspension, cancellation or revocation of the ITC Certificate of Registration, as well as the imposition of such administrative fines as may be authorized by applicable laws, rules and regulations, and issuances.
In addition, the offender shall be subjected to appropriate enforcement and investigation proceedings with a view towards instituting such civil, criminal, administrative cases, or any combination thereof, as may be warranted pursuant to applicable laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and other issuances.
Failure to enforce the strict compliance of this Circular shall not constitute a waiver of the Department’s right to subsequently enforce the provisions hereof, nor shall non-compliance of this Circular be considered a sufficient justification against its coverage and application.
Section 28. Construction and Interpretation. This Circular shall be liberally construed in order to attain and implement the statutory objectives and mandates of the Department as indicated in S2, Title I hereof, and the provisions of other existing laws, rules and regulations, and issuances.
All provisions of this Circular shall be deemed written into, and shall constitute an integral part of, any and all contracts involving the PTTIS.
Any and all concerns arising from the construction or interpretation of this Circular, or any provision hereof, shall initially, and as a condition precedent to the filing of any other action, be submitted in writing, setting forth the particulars thereof and the specific basis therefor, to the Department. After due consideration of the documentary submission, the DICT shall provide its clarification, guidance or disposition thereon to the parties concerned within a reasonable period of time.
Section 29. Use of Alternative Modes of Dispute Resolution. The parties to any PTTI Sharing Agreement shall make every reasonable effort to reach an amicable settlement in good faith so as not to impede the roll-out of Shared PTTIs.
Pursuant to S10, Chapter 3, Book VII of EO 292, series of 1987, PTTI owners or operators and MNOs are encouraged to settle, through any of the modes of alternative dispute resolution any and all disputes or controversies, of any kind whatsoever, that may arise between them in connection with or arising from their respective PTTI Sharing Agreements prior to instituting appropriate adjudicatory proceedings. For this purpose, the parties may resort to the
provisions of Republic Act No. 9285, otherwise known as the “Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004.”
Section 30. Legacy PTTIs. All existing and operational Legacy PTTIs may continue as such in their current state and condition as of the date of effectivity of this Circular, provided that they are still fully compliant with all laws, circulars, rules and regulations, and other issuances on national security, public health, public safety and security, civil aviation, environmental protection, and other laws, rules, and regulations of general and specific application.
The guidelines for the exercise of franchise privileges granted to MNOs to build and construct new PTTIs, as well as to improve, renovate, upgrade, retrofit or update their Legacy PTTIs, shall be covered under separate departmental issuances.
Section 31. Use of Government Lands. Any and all contracts entered into by and between any PTTI owner or operator and the Government, including any of its departments, agencies, bureaus, offices, GOCCs, State Universities and Colleges, LGUs, or other instrumentalities involving the leasing out of government land and buildings for the construction, management or operation of PTTIs, whether existing or future, shall be subject to review and rcassessment by the DICT to ensure compliance thereof with the provisions of this Circular, EO No. 301 s. 1987, EO 109 s. 2002, and other applicable laws, guidelines, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Bases of the AFP with military operations and functions and within the jurisdiction and control of the AFP, bases, offices and stations of the PNP, and other areas declared as critical to national security and defense, and the maintenance of peace and order, shall be excluded from the coverage of this Circular.
Section 32. Reservation Clause. The Secretary shall have the power to amend, modify or revoke the provisions of this Circular, or impose further conditions, as may be necessary in the public interest. Nothing in this Circular shall be construed to limit, decrease, or restrain the Department’s authority and mandate under RA 10844, RA 10929, the Revised Administrative Code, and other existing laws, rules and regulations, and issuances.
Pursuant to RA 10929, nothing in this Circular shall prohibit the DICT from providing internet connectivity by installing its own equipment and establishing its own infrastructure.
Section 33. Repealing Clause. The provisions of the Rules on the Accelerated Roll Out of Common Towers in the Philippines and all other orders, circulars, resolutions, rules and regulations, guidelines or issuances, or any part thereof, inconsistent with this Circular are hereby amended, modified, repealed or superseded, accordingly.
Section 34. Transitory Provision. The provisions of this Circular shall be applicable to all pending requests from companies to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DICT.
ITCs with existing MOUs or MOAs with DICT shall be deemed registered under this Circular, provided that they promptly file their duly completed documentary requirements for their application for registration as ITCs in accordance with this Circular.
Section 35. Separability Clause. In case any provision in this Circular shall be declared unconstitutional, invalid, illegal or unenforceable by the courts, the constitutionality, validity, legality, and enforceability of the remaining provisions shall not in any way be affected or impaired thereby, and shall remain valid and subsisting.
Section 36. Effectivity Clause. In view of the declared state of public health emergency and the imposition of Community Quarantine affecting Luzon and other areas in the Philippines, this Circular shall be effective immediately upon its filing/publication in accordance with 54, Chapter 2, Book VII of the 1987 Revised Administrative Code.
Let copies of this Circular be likewise posted and published in the official DICT website and bulletin boards, as well as in a newspaper of general circulation, if available in light of the public health emergency.
GREGORIO B. HONASAN II, Secretary
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