GLOBE Telecom, Inc. said it may put on hold its plan to lease or sell its tower assets, as the government is still finalizing rules on shared telecommunications infrastructure.
Ernest L. Cu, president and chief executive officer of the Ayala-led telco firm, said at the company’s second-quarter financial results briefing Monday that its plan to form a tower company is still in limbo.
“It’s hard to go into a business where the rules are uncertain,” he said, when asked about the company’s plan for tower sharing.
Globe last year incorporated GTowers, Inc. as it seeks to generate income from some of its passive infrastructure assets to fund its capital expenditures (capex).
Since then, the telco has waited for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to come up with a common tower policy, as initial draft rules disallowed network operators such as Globe from building their own towers.
In July, DICT Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the government may no longer issue written rules on the establishment of common towers.
To this, Mr. Cu said they will wait for rules to be finalized before proceeding with the plans for GTowers.
“We’ll have to wait until rules have been finalized. As you can imagine, it’s hard to enter into a transaction with someone with all the rules changed,” he said.
“Sometimes we hear things like there’s no more tower policy, yet at the same time, they’re (DICT) calling another meeting to discuss it. So I think it is good to let things settle down,” he added.
The DICT scheduled today a meeting with stakeholders to discuss concerns on tower sharing, steps to hasten the roll out of towers and possible government incentives for independent tower providers.
In an announcement on its website, DICT said the meeting will be the first in a series, as it aims to have an “overall participative and synoptic process…that will inform its overall department policy direction.”
While waiting for the government to firm up its plans, Globe has inked deals with two joint ventures of tower providers: ISOC Infrastructure, Inc. and edotco Group Sdn. Bhd.; and Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and Frontier Tower Associates Philippines.
As for the company’s existing tower assets, Mr. Cu said the preference remains the same: “that the tower assets be turned back to cash.”
“The first thing that has to happen is the towers have to be acquired by a dedicated tower company so that they can perform the necessary activity to upgrade the tower facility to enable multi-tenants,” he said.
“We’re not in the business of renting towers, we’re in the business of building networks. All of our capex naturally should go between building and expanding our capacity…,” he said.
“That (GTowers), I guess, will have to wait… Once everything has been finalized and set in stone, then I think the process can continue and start once again.” — Denise A. Valdez