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Chinese firm joins shared telco tower initiative

/ 05:00 AM January 19, 2019

A fifth tower builder formalized its intent to join a government-led initiative to build shared cell towers in the Philippines.

On Friday, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed a memorandum of agreement with China Energy Equipment Co. Ltd. that will help the latter enter into commercial agreements with telco clients.

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Under the deal, the DICT will offer to provide full support such as assisting in the facilitating of permits and allowing the use of certain government assets.

The DICT is inviting tower builders and operators to meet the Philippines’s shortfall of about 50,000 cell towers. Telco incumbents Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. control a combined 16,000 towers—a figure that was said to be inadequate and a key reason for the poor mobile network quality in certain areas.

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During the signing event on Friday, China Energy vice president Huang Fei said the company had built about 100,000 towers in China and it was prepared to build all 50,000 towers to the tune of $4.4 billion.

Speaking through an interpreter, he clarified that the final numbers “will be based on the demand from the operators.”

The government is stepping up its drive to encourage telcos to share infrastructure to lower costs for both the telcos and their subscribers.

Moreover, an infrastructure sharing policy will help speed up the rollout of Mislatel Consortium, the venture between businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp. and China Telecom that was named the country’s third mobile player last November.

The DICT has signed similar MOUs with at least four tower companies. These are Filipino company ISOC Infrastructures, which partnered with Malaysia’s OCK Group; ISON ECP Tower Singapore Pte. Ltd; Nigeria’s IHS Towers, and Malaysia’s Edotco Group.

Acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said they expected to sign a similar agreement with United States-based American Tower.

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TAGS: Chinese firm, third telco
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