Aboitiz unit eyes cell site deal with Dito | Inquirer Business
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Aboitiz unit eyes cell site deal with Dito

/ 04:01 AM September 24, 2019

The telco common tower venture of power, food and banking conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures is in talks to build shared cell sites for Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third mobile player, after signing early agreements with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.

Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. chief operating officer Cosette Canilao said the company and partner Frontier Tower Associates Philippines were in discussions with Dito but no details could be shared yet since the parities had signed a confidentiality agreement.

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“We’re working toward signing the MOU (memorandum of understanding). We’re also talking about their requirements,” Canilao told reporters in a recent interview.

The Aboitiz Group is among two dozen companies seeking to participate in the government’s common tower initiative, which will pave the way for the construction of new cell sites and the sharing of telco infrastructure.

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The government is hoping the private sector will build about 50,000 new cell towers, which will help address decongest the country’s wireless networks and improve the quality of services from voice calls to mobile data browsing.

Previously, Aboitiz signed MOUs with PLDT’s Smart Communications and Globe.
Canilao said Aboitiz-Frontier was now working with the two companies on commercial and technical terms.

A common tower regime will benefit Dito, which was awarded in July a coveted set of 3G, 4G and potential 5G frequencies to launch a service to rival Smart and Globe.

It will expand Dito’s reach and help it meet a commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover 37 percent of the country’s population on its first year of operations. Under the terms of its award, Dito, owned by the group of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom, should meet that target by July 8, 2020.

By the end of its fifth year, Dito should cover 84 percent of the Philippine population.

Another common tower participant is aggressively expanding in the country. Malaysia-based tower provider edotco Group Sdn. Bhd. and Filipino company ISOC Infrastructure Inc. earlier signed early agreements with Globe and Smart.

Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., a shareholder of Dito, said it is in “general discussions” for a common tower deal with ISOC-edotco.

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Before common towers were introduced, PLDT and Globe would build and operate their own sites. A common tower policy will allow third parties to build towers and lease these out to multiple telcos, removing redundant infrastructure since the sites will be shared.

The program aims to solve the chronic lack of cell sites in the Philippines, where the construction of towers is delayed by permitting bottlenecks.

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TAGS: aboitiz, Business, Dito Telecommunity
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