Globe signs MOU with ISOC, edotco
for 150 new telecom towers in PH
Text and Photo by Monsi A. Serrano
Globe Telecom has entered into a tripartite agreement with ISOC Infrastructure Inc. and Malaysia-based tower giant edotco Group Sdn. Bhd., becoming the first telecommunications company (telco) to support the common tower initiative of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
In his opening remarks, Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu announced that Globe is taking a leap towards improving ICT infrastructure in the Philippines by being the first mobile operator to support the government’s common tower initiative.
“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.
Cu added that ISOC and edotco, the first independent telecom tower companies (towercos) to seek vendor accreditation with Globe, will build an initial 150 sites for the company. “The building and deployment of cellular towers in the country are critical if we hope to change the Internet experience of our customers,” he said.
The DICT signed agreements with 23 towercos with ISOC and edotco leading the pack as among the first to do so. Despite the agreements, the government has yet to release a common tower policy governing towercos in the country.
Michael Cosiquien, Chairman of ISOC Infrastructure, Inc., recognized the MOU with Globe as a milestone. “Today marks the beginning of great things. What was once a concept is made concrete and together with edotco, we are grateful for the leadership of government, and the support of Globe, in finally making this a reality,” Consiquien said. “ISOC and edotco are committed to help provide the Filipino people the information highway they deserve with the common tower initiative,” he added.
Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group Sdn Bhd, expressed optimism and equally encouraged by the DICT’s decision to open the market and accredit independent tower companies. “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,” Sidhu said.
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. 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.
Interviewed by THEPHILBIZNEWS, Sidhu reiterated edotco’s commitment to make the target of 150 new common towers realized and hopefully before 2019 ends. But he also said that there might be an inevitable spill towards 2020 if the challenge in building these towers will continue especially in getting permits from several government agencies.
DICT targets 50,000 towers
The DICT target is to build at least 50,000 new common towers in the country in the next seven to 10 years. It also announced its plans recently to accelerate the building of 2,500 common towers in properties owned by government agencies. Telco stakeholders however are seeking for the immediate release of the long delayed Common Tower Policy.
Unlike in most countries, the ICT infrastructure spending 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.
On the part of Globe Telecom, Cu said that he is happy to share the infrastructure with other telcos even if the challenge of rolling out the infrastructure that inevitably affects the quality and capacity of telco remain.
“While the Philippines is blessed with beautiful mountains, seas, and rivers, the challenge to traverse these is already tough. But apart from this, the other challenge in interconnectivity remains elusive due to the regulatory framework and permit which all telcos have to deal with in building a tower around 25-28 permits,” Cu added.
But Cu is hopeful that with the help of the DICT and the media, the government under the guidance of President Duterte will address this perennial challenge that telcos need to face.
Gov’t to address challenges
Meanwhile, DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr., told to THEPHILBIZNEWS that he will urge President Duterte to create an executive order to hasten the building of common towers in the country.
“There are many government agencies that need to give green light to build these towers in every municipality or city. By having the Executive Order from the President, it would compel other government agencies and local government units to comply and not to create any reason to derail it,” he explained.
“When there are signals and fast Internet connections, there will be development and people there will have more opportunities to start their online business and a lot more. That is why we at DICT appeal to the people to be supportive of this endeavor as well as to our local government units and other government agencies to make this happen,” the DICT Chief added.