Globe taps ISOC-led common tower pool

The Ayala-led telco  signed Monday a tripartite agreement with ISOC Infrastructure Inc. of Megawide Construction Corp. co-founder Michael Cosiquien and Malaysia-based tower giant edotco Group Sdn. Bhd.

Under the agreement, ISOC and edotco will build an initial 150 common towers in various sites in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) for Globe.

The parties did not disclose their planned investment for the common towers, but early estimates from the government and the private sector showed that each tower could cost $100,000.

Investment for the towers will be shared equally by ISOC and edotco, while Globe will lease the infrastructure to be shared potentially with the other telcos.

Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu said the plan is to start with the construction of the towers immediately, as the companies have already started scouting for potential sites.

“The building and deployment of cellular towers in the country are critical if we hope to change the internet experience of our customers,” Cu said.

“ICT infrastructure is the foundation of a highly-connected digital economy. 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 neighbors in terms of infrastructure,” Cu said.

ISOC and edotco are part of the 23 common tower pool that have previously signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to express their support and intent to join the government’s common tower initiative.

“ISOC and edotco are committed to help provide the Filipino people the information highway they deserve with the common tower initiative,” said Cosiquien, chairman of ISOC.

“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,” edotco Group CEO Suresh Sidhu said.

Sidhu said 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. 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,” he said.

The edotco Group operates and manages a regional portfolio of over 30,000 towers across core markets of Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

With the tripartite agreement, ISOC and edotco are expected to be first tower providers to ink a memorandum of agreement with DICT.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio said the MOA is expected to be signed in the next few weeks.

The MOA will ensure that all government requirements and permits in putting up the common towers will be facilitated by DICT.

“This is part of our answer in increasing our tower density. We have one of the lowest tower density in the region and we really a lot of catching up to do,” Rio said.

The DICT targets to build at least 50,000 new common towers across the country in the next seven to 10 years.

Last month, the DICT issued the rules on the so-called “accelerated roll-out of common towers,” which will pilot and test the common tower initiative of the government while also acquainting independent tower companies in the Philippine telecommunications market.

Under the rules of the accelerated roll-out of common towers, some 2,500 sites, most of which are owned by the DICT and other government agencies, will serve as locations for common towers.

The release of the pilot test pushes back the release of the much-awaited policy on telco infrastructure sharing by another three months, which is now expected to come out on September.

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