Globe taps outsider for telco towers | Inquirer Business

Globe taps outsider for telco towers

/ 05:03 AM June 18, 2019

Industry giant Globe Telecom became a first mover in a government-led telco tower-sharing initiative that also aimed to significantly increase the number of cell sites in the Philippines and help solve issues on spotty mobile connectivity.

Globe announced on Monday a partnership with Filipino company ISOC Infrastructure Inc. and Malaysian tower builder edotco Group Sdn. Bhd.

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The agreement—coming a year and a half since the common-tower initiative of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) was announced—also marked the first time a local industry player tapped an independent tower group to build and manage its sites.

“The building and deployment of cellular towers in the country are critical if we hope to change the internet experience of our customers,” Globe CEO Ernest Cu said on Monday.

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Globe and main rival PLDT Inc. control more than 17,000 telco towers but are not building new sites fast enough to meet the rapidly increasing demand for high-speed mobile internet.

The telcos, which are also launching the next-generation mobile standard 5G this year, said the rollout was constrained by permitting bottlenecks in the local government unit level and resistant homeowners’ associations in gated communities.

Under its common tower policy, the DICT hoped that independent tower companies would help build at least 50,000 new towers in the coming years. It also promised to assist them in securing permits—a move that Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the DICT said was backed by President Duterte.

Globe’s partnership with ISOC and edotco will start with a modest target of 150 new telco towers focusing on Calabarzon, which refers to the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

Under the agreement, ISOC and edotco will build new towers while Globe will lease the assets. These new towers can also be leased by other telco providers such as PLDT and the Mislatel Consortium, which was named the country’s third mobile player following a bidding exercise last year.

“What was once a concept is made concrete and together with edotco, we are grateful for the leadership of government and the support of Globe in finally making this a reality,” ISOC chair Michael Cosiquein said.

While common tower operators need at least two telco tenants for the business to be feasible, Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group, said on Monday they saw the Philippines as a long-term proposition.

“The key to a partnership like edotco and ISOC is that we bring our balance sheet to help make it happen,” Sidhu said.

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