Globe Telecom has become the first telco in the Philippines to support the government's proposed common tower initiative, with the signing of a tripartite agreement between ISOC Infrastructure and Malaysia-based tower giant edotco Group.
The agreement will see ISOC and edotco build an initial 150 towers for the Singtel-owned telco, all within the Calabarzon region, considered the most populous area of the Philippines.
“ICT infrastructure is the foundation of a highly-connected digital economy,” said Ernest Cu, president and CEO of Globe Telecom. “While we have made significant improvements on the quality of internet experience, there is still a large gap to fill so we can be at par with our neighbours in terms of infrastructure.
“The building and deployment of cellular towers in the country are critical if we hope to change the internet experience of our customers."
In all, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has signed agreements with 23 tower companies with ISOC and edotco leading the pack as among the first to do so. However, despite the agreements, the government has yet to release a common tower policy.
“Today marks the beginning of great things,” said Michael Cosiquien, chairman of ISOC Infrastructure. “What was once a concept is made concrete, and together with edotco, we are grateful for the leadership of the government and the support of Globe in finally making this a reality.
“ISOC and edotco are committed to helping provide the Filipino people the information highway they deserve with the common tower initiative."
The DICT targets to build at least 50,000 new common towers across the country in the next seven to ten years.
The government agency also announced its recent plans to accelerate the building of 2,500 common towers in properties owned by government agencies.
However, Telco stakeholders are seeking the immediate release of the long-delayed Common Tower Policy.
“Our efforts in the Philippines are motivated by the clear opportunity to reshape the telecommunications landscape and as an independent tower company, we are in the right position to facilitate and manage these advancements,” said Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group.
Sidhu added that infrastructure sharing has proven to help mobile network operators focus on their core business and service offerings by alleviating the cost pressure of building and maintaining towers.
“We have partnered with governments, regulators, and operators in all the countries in which we are present and have a wealth of best practices that we hope to implement here,” said Sidhu. “Our focus is not merely addressing digital gaps today but on building shareable infrastructure for the future, creating the right environment for the nation’s digital transformation aspirations."
Unlike in most countries, ICT infrastructure spends in the Philippines has been left entirely to the private sector. This brought about huge gaps in cell site and wired broadband builds all over the country.
For instance, Vietnam has 90,000 cellular towers compared to the Philippines' 17,850 cell sites while recent data from TowerXchange showed that even Pakistan has 34,300 while Bangladesh has 30,000 cellular towers.
Globe Telecom is owned by SingTel and Ayala Corporation, and offers full-service telecommunications across the Philippines including mobile, fixed, broadband, data connections, internet, and managed services.