GLOBE Telecom, Inc. and the Mislatel consortium, the group selected to step in as the telecommunications industry’s “third player,” said they are now in discussions to share tower assets to reduce the cost and duration of the infrastructure buildout.

In a hearing on common tower policy by the House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communication Technology, representatives from the two telcos confirmed they are looking at possible ways to use Globe’s passive assets.

“For Globe, we have signified our intention that we are open to sharing our current network infrastructure. In fact, Mislatel was also informed of this,” Globe General Counsel Vicente Froilan M. Castelo said.

Mislatel Spokesperson Adel A. Tamano confirmed that talks are under way, and that the third player has always wanted a shared tower setup with incumbents Globe and Smart Communications, Inc.

“Even before, that has been our position. We want to enter into commercial agreements with the existing (telcos)… We are already in talks. It’s true, I’d like to confirm Atty. Castelo’s statements. We are in talks with them,” he said.

“It will really speed up roll out. The main issue for us is really the site acquisition. With existing towers, that problem is addressed,” he added.

The planned tie-up points of the complexity and expense of rolling out a new telecophone service provider and also the pressure on incumbents to increase coverage in the face of more intense competition, and as all telcos face mounting bills for upgrading technology as fith-generation mobile (5G) starts rolling out in other markets,

Mr. Tamano noted that Mislatel would like “all of (Globe’s) existing infrastructure” to be part of the shared pool of assets. “Because I think, the contemplation currently is only certain areas will be shared. But I think if we have access to more towers, that would help our rollout,” he said.

Globe has long expressed its intent to lease its tower assets and even obtained approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission last year to form its own tower company, GTowers, Inc.

When it announced the incorporation of GTowers, Globe said putting up its own tower company would “help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers in the country.”

Mislatel, whose members are China Telecommunications Corp., Udenna Corp., Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel), also called for Globe and Smart early on to play a role in the third-player rollout.

When the group was selected as third player in November, Mr. Tamano said then: “We’d like to invite all the stakeholders, everyone who wants to have better telecommunications in the Philippines, to work with us… In fact even our competitors, Globe and Smart, we are ready to partner with you for the use of your tower facilities.”

Smart Vice-President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs Roy Cecil D. Ibay said sharing tower assets would be more difficult for the group as it does not own the land on which its towers are located.

“Unlike Globe (which owns the land on) at least 70% of their towers, our towers are 100% on leased land,” he said.

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. — Denise A. Valdez