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Smart to tap up to 10 common tower partners

/ 05:16 AM August 27, 2020

PLDT Inc.’s Smart Communications Inc. is eyeing to seal agreements with as many as 10 independent tower companies for faster rollout of infrastructure to meet the increasing demand for mobile internet services.

Smart said in a statement on Wednesday it had signed deals with six tower companies to build about 200 macro cell sites with plans to bring in another four firms.

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The six companies are Phil Tower Consortium, Isoc edotco Towers Inc., Frontier Tower Associates Philippines Inc., ALT Global Solutions Inc., Communication and Renewable Energy Infrastructure Phils. Inc. and Ison Tower Ltd. Inc.

Smart is banking on recent moves by the government to solve the long-running issue on permits, in particular, the slow approval process from various local government units and homeowners’ associations.

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“With the approval of the simplified permit process for common towers, Smart will be able to speed up its mobile network rollout by tapping common tower companies,” the company said.

This will help the company meet the exponential increase in data demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes alongside President Duterte’s calls for improved service quality.

Industry players have been spending more in recent years to upgrade their networks, spurred in part by smartphone sales, social media, internet TV and gaming.

Over the past 19 years, PLDT and main rival Globe Telecom have invested over P1.1 trillion combined and paid hundreds of billions of pesos in dividends to shareholders, data compiled by the Inquirer showed.

Roughly a quarter of the investments materialized in the last three years, signaling faster spending by the telcos.

PLDT and Globe control over 20,000 telco towers to date, far below the goal of about 70,000 sites or more.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology recently issued rules allowing the entry of independent tower companies while taking steps to cut down the permitting process from 200 days to about two weeks. —Miguel R. Camus

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TAGS: mobile internet services, PLDT Inc., Smart Communications Inc.
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