The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed memorandums of understanding with Nigerian and Malaysian firms to support their bid to become common tower providers in the country.
The companies are Nigeria’s IHS Towers and Malaysia’s edotco Group.
DICT commits to support IHS Towers and edotco in facilitating permits, right of way, and other government support in infrastructure if they are able to secure a contract with any of the telco operators.
IHS Towers is the largest provider of telecommunications infrastructure in Africa, Middle East, and Europe with over 23,000 towers across its footprint.
Malaysia’s edotco operates and manages a regional portfolio of over 28,500 towers across Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The company is a subsidiary to one of Asia’s largest telecommunications conglomerates, Axiata Group Berhad.
“The DICT recently proposed to open the market and accredit independent tower companies. We are certainly encouraged by the news,” Sureshi Sidhu, edotco’s CEO, said in a separate statement.
“An estimated 50,000 towers are required to serve the connectivity needs of over 113 million mobile subscribers in the country and edotco is well-positioned to bring our investment, innovation and expertise into the Philippines to address this growing demand,” he said.
In December last year, the ICT department entered into a similar deal with ISOC Infrastructures Inc. and Singapore’s ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.
DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. earlier told GMA News Online that pending a common tower policy the department will come out with MOUs with interested companies.
“The MOU clearly states that the common tower provider can only get support from the DICT if they have a solid contract with a telco,” Rio said.
The government is bent on implementing a common tower policy to reduce the cost of telecommunications services by freeing telcos from costly expenditures in building their own towers or cell sites.
The towers will be shared by telco operators, like PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. as well as the third telco player.
Rio said the Philippines needs around 50,000 cell sites for the telcos to provide adequate service across the country.
The towers will be built by common tower companies at no cost to the government, and the cell sites will be leased by the telcos.
Tower sharing is an existing business model in the telecom industry that has been proven effective in Southeast Asia, the United States, and other parts of the world, according to DICT.
“This goes to show the confidence of the industry in the direction we are heading right now, which is to introduce more competition in the market,” Rio said.
“We will welcome more parties in this venture as it will address the country’s backlog on telecommunication towers,” he said.
The DICT said it is also set to sign a similar MOU with China Energy Engineering Group on Friday, January 18.
The common tower policy is also expected to aid new major player Mislatel consortium in rolling out its telecom service and compete with the incumbent telcos.
The consortium consists of Udenna Corporation and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., franchise holder Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co., and foreign partner China Telecommunications Corp. Lt. Both Udenna and Chelsea Logistics are led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy.—GMA Entertainment