By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is looking to fine-tune the shared telco infrastructure initiative.
DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said they organized a forum on Feb. 18 for Smart Communications, Inc., Globe Telecom, Inc., and the eight tower companies that have already signed memoranda of agreement with the DICT.
Ang gagawin namin is to fine-tune, kasi this is the first time we did a common tower dito sa Pilipinas. Pati yung mga telcos (nao-overwhelm) sila… Kinakausap sila ngayon ng common tower providers.. in other words may learning curve pa rin sila [What we’ll do is we’ll fine tune the plan, because this is the first time we’re doing common towers in the Philippines. Even the telcos are overwhelmed. The common tower providers are talking to them but they are unable to sign contracts. In other words they have a learning curve],” he told BusinessWorld after the DICT signed its eighth MoU with a local tower provider on Monday.
Mr. Rio noted that despite having welcomed several tower companies since December, none have secured an order with any of the telcos for the shared tower facilities.
“As of now wala pang bumabalik sa amin to sign an MoA [As of now none has come back to us to sign an MoA],” he said, noting that the forum is expected to address this.
The MoUs guarantee that as soon as the tower providers receive orders from the telcos, the DICT will assist them in securing permits, which Mr. Rio said is a major hurdle encountered by Smart and Globe.
The DICT signed its eight MoU with MGS Construction, Inc. on Monday, which aims to provide at least 500 towers priced at P5 million per tower.
MGS Construction has a background of constructing buildings, hospitals, and condominium units, mostly for the Villar Group of Companies. The firm’s president Jerry M. Navarrete noted the Villar group has no stake in the incorporation. Mr. Navarrette was previously the president of Villar’s Starmalls.
Mr. Rio said they are expecting to sign deals with two more tower providers in the coming weeks, one of which will be with American Tower Corp.
The companies that have so far registered are ISOC Infrastructures, Inc.; ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.; IHS Holding Ltd. (IHS Towers); edotco Group Sdn Bhd; China Energy Equipment Co. Ltd.; RT Telecom Sdn Bhd.; and Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.
Smart is the wireless unit of PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.