NOW investing P7.8B in telco infra buildup
NOW Corp., which is keen on offering 5G services to more clients, plans to spend as much as P7.8 billion in the next 10 years to establish additional 100 base stations and build up its digital infrastructure.
NOW Group chair and founder Mel Velarde, in a briefing on Monday, said the company was also pursuing the acquisition of affiliate News and Entertainment Network Corp. (Newsnet), a pay TV and multimedia services company, to expand its coverage.
Velarde said they were eyeing to initially shell out P1.2 billion in the next two years to fund expansion projects. The listed company said it was in talks with investment banking groups that would help them raise funds through debt or equity markets.
“We think that the next phase of competition among three or four major telcos will depend on the single battle ground which is customer experience,” he said, justifying the need to ramp up their investments.
Included in its capital expenditure budgeting is the expansion of its 50 base stations, mostly in Metro Manila and Calabarzon region. Additional stations are planned in Mega Manila to cover gaps in its services.
For digital infrastructure, Velarde said this would include data center, cloud services, software and cybersecurity measures.
20% stake in Newsnet
Meanwhile, Velarde said NOW would start negotiating to buy an initial 20-percent stake in Newsnet, with the hope of having full ownership “over time.”
The transaction—which could be settled through direct cash investment, share swap deal or issuance of preferred shares—is eyed to be concluded before the year ends.
NOW vice chair Francis Xavier Manglapus said the acquisition would increase the company’s network capacity to 9 Gpbs (gigabit per second) from the current 2.4 Gbps per base station. The increase, he said, could support residential and enterprise markets.
“The demand for larger capacity and higher speeds with better latency is expected to increase over time. At a technological point of view, the upgrade of our network is expected to unleash the full potential of 5G—higher capacity, faster downloads and uploads, low latency,” Newsnet chair Rene Rosales said.
NOW is a listed company involved in telecommunication, media and technology, with software licenses and services, IT manpower and resource augmentation and broadband and wireless cable TV services as its key operating business segments.
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