With the surge in internet usage during the COVID-19 pandemic and the directive of President Duterte for telcos to fast-track improvements of their services by yearend, the National Telecommunications Commission recently wrote Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar to consider the proposed amendments to the existing rules and regulations of DPWH Department Order 73 (s. 2014) on right-of-way.
Right-of-way issues remain to be a principal cause of delays to telcos’ nationwide roll-out plans preventing them from building the critical backbone and last mile connectivity.
In relation to telecommunication infrastructure, DPWH D.O. No. 73 prohibits posts for cable of phones and mobile service providers along all national roads. D.O. 73 required phone, mobile, and cable service providers and their contractors to acquire their own right-of-way and directed DPWH Regional and District Engineers to remove all those declared prohibited uses of the right-of-way. Right-of-way includes areas of the national road such as sidewalks, gutters and canals.
Through a Memorandum of Agreement signed during the First Philippine Telecoms Summit in 2017, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, DPWH and NTC agreed that there was a need to amend or revise the D.O. to eliminate barriers to the expansion of telecommunication services and facilities in the country as well as to effectively roll-out the ICT infrastructure.
Technical working group meetings, presided by the DPWH, were held following the signing of the MOA. The TWG was composed of representatives from the DICT, NTC, telcos, cable operators as well as DPWH officials, staff, district engineers and technical specialists.
The amendments to DPWH D.O. 73 is also one of the vital considerations of the newly-created Telecommunications Monitoring Group for the improvement of telecommunications services, a multi-agency body comprised of the DICT, Department of Interior and Local Government, Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Anti-Red Tape Authority and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President.