$2-B wireless network to be built in ARMM

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By Carmencita A. Carillo,

DAVAO CITY — TierOne Communications, a Davao-based telecommunications company, is set to start building a $2-billion high-speed wireless communications network in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including Marawi City, this month.

The company is teaming up with Boston-based Parallel Wireless, Finland-based Nokia, and China-based ZTE to build the largest and most modern network across the Philippines, focusing particularly on underserved areas.

“We are committed to installing 50,000 towers in five years and complete the project within the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” TierOne Chairman Jonathan B. Stevens said in a press conference on Wednesday.

He described TierOne as a Philippine-owned corporation with equity and strategic partners from South Africa, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, New York, Boston and Europe. The company was established in 1999, and completed a five-year project providing one-stop telephone boxes operated on V-Sat in rural areas. It was then awarded a 25-year franchise to operate cellular and broadband, with the first 10 years exclusively in the ARMM.

“”We are starting in Cotabato with 100 Mbps (megabits per second) line to build their new network and assist the regional government with its critical lack of connectivity, and after completing Cotabato we will do Marawi University (Mindanao State University) and Marawi City by March,” Mr. Stevens said.

He said the company picked Marawi City as early as May 2017 due to Mindanao State University and the students’ need to have access to information and technology. However, the project was postponed after the terror attacks in the city.

“TierOne management attended the recent Marawi and Lanao del Sur investment forum and was surprised at the progress and rebuilding of Marawi City,” Mr. Stevens said, noting this is the right time to rebuild a new cellular and broadband network in Marawi City.

Mr. Stevens said Parallel Wireless, which supplies transmitters, has agreed to develop micro-cell towers ideal for remote locations.

TierOne intends to put up the towers in 52 government buildings in ARMM.

“The plan is to put up a mini-tower in every school, police and Armed Forces responder station that is disaster-proof, self-contained and with back-up power good for the next three days so it can connect to other agencies and can face any threat whatever happens,” Mr. Stevens said.

The TierOne official admitted this is a big undertaking, as the company goes up against the country’s telecommunications giants. However, he said the company hopes to complete these projects within five years.