Aboitiz, 6 other firms join common tower program

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ABOITIZ InfraCapital Inc. has joined six other companies, mostly foreign entities, that intend to take part in the government's common tower program.

Aboitiz's infrastructure business unit signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday, February 7.

Aboitiz is the seventh company to sign an MOU with the DICT.

Other companies that have signed up for the common tower program are: Malaysian firms RT Telecom Sdn Bhd and edotco Group Sdn Bhd; ISOC Infrastructures Inc.; ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd. from Singapore; IHS Towers; and China Energy Engineering Corporation.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. earlier said the country needs an additional 50,000 towers to improve telecommunication services, increase coverage and prepare the telecommunications industry for 5G technologies.

The common tower program is also seen to help new telecommunications player Mislatel Consortium fast track the rollout of its services.

Mislatel, which will challenge the dominance of PLDT/Smart Telecommunications and Globe Telecom Inc., is currently complying with post-qualification requirements.

Congress, meanwhile, has adopted a concurrent resolution that formalized the sale of the controlling interest of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) to Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Holdings Corporation, both owned by Davao businessman Dennis Uy, and the state-run China Telecommunications Corporation.

The Senate concurred with House Concurrent Resolution 23 on February 5. A concurrent resolution is a resolution adopted by both houses of Congress that do not require the President’s signature and do not have the force of law.

In a statement earlier, edotco said there are only around 16,300 telecommunication towers spread across the country, causing "significant coverage issues leading to network congestion."

"The subscriber-to-tower ratio in the Philippines currently stands at over 7,000 subscribers for every tower. This is equivalent to three times the recommended ratio by the International Telecommunications Union, or three to five times of the indicative ratio in Myanmar and Vietnam in comparison," said edotco chief executive officer Suresh Sidhu.

It noted that the absence of infrastructure sharing and uncoordinated network expansion has contributed to a significant duplication in capital expenditure (capex).

"An estimated 50 percent of sites are taking up repetitive resources worth $380 million, alongside standalone energy systems amounting to some $127 million," Sidhu added.

Edotco operates and manages a portfolio of over 28,500 towers across Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)


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