Globe starts talks to put up new cellular tower company

By Louella Desiderio

MANILA, Philippines — Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. has started talks with independent third parties to establish a tower company for faster deployment of cellular towers in the country.

In a statement yesterday, Globe said it is looking to divest all or part of its tower assets to independent tower companies in line with its network expansion and optimization plan. 

Globe currently has over 8,000 cell towers in the country.

As the telco has been earmarking 30 percent of total revenue to capital expenditures in the past five years and expects to keep spending at that level over a period of time, Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu said an independent tower company is a win-win solution as this would allow the company to monetize assets for capex use.

“In addition, this greatly helps President Duterte’s initiative to open the telco industry to new players.  The plan is for these towers to be open for lease to new and existing players. This effectively lessens the barriers that a new entrant has to endure because they will not have to spend the capex to build towers and instead focus on rolling out the necessary network equipment,” he said.

Cu said the move would mean less time needed by a new player to rollout its service given the 25 permits and up to eight months required to build one cell tower.

“Our move is also consistent with our position of being open to more competition in the telecommunications industry,” he said.

Globe will be working with the tower company in identifying locations for all prospective towers.

Sought for comment yesterday, presidential adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications Ramon Jacinto said in a text message that as the government is set to implement a common tower policy, telco operators won’t be allowed to own any stake in the independent tower company or companies.

“In the Philippines, the very idea of an independent tower company is to take away the burden of investing and building towers from the telcos so they can invest their funds and concentrate their energies on improving their service (upgrading their equipment) and enable them to channel extra funds to the less profitable underserved areas which the duopoly has failed to serve,” he said.

“Allowing it to own equity gives it undue influence over the smaller players and would give them leverage to influence the policies and management of the independent tower company,” he added.

Jacinto said the telcos would need to wait for the guidelines on the common tower policy first.

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