THE joint venture of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and Frontier Tower Associates Philippines, Inc. (FTAP) has secured a deal with Smart Communications, Inc. to provide shareable telecommunications infrastructure.

In a statement yesterday, Aboitiz InfraCapital said it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Smart last week, making it the second firm it will provide common tower services. “This latest collaboration with Smart is in step with Aboitiz InfraCapital’s goal to ramp up the country’s connectivity through infrastructure,” Aboitiz InfraCapital Chief Operating Officer Cosette V. Canilao said in the statement.

Aboitiz InfraCapital and FTAP earlier signed a common tower agreement with Smart rival Globe Telecom, Inc., which will focus on building sites in Cebu, Davao and Olongapo.

As for Smart, the joint venture of Aboitiz InfraCapital and FTAP is also the second it is tapping for common towers. Smart signed an MoU with the tandem of edotco Group Sdn. Bhd. and ISOC Infrastructure, Inc. earlier this month.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with Aboitiz InfraCapital and FTAP, and to accelerate the delivery of wireless services to more areas nationwide,” Smart President and Chief Executive Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio was quoted in the statement as saying.

The government has been urging telcos to avail the services of independent tower firms to build their infrastructure needs. These towers, unlike those built by the telcos for their own purpose, may be used by more than one tenant.

Mr. Panlilio said tapping common tower providers will allow Smart to improve its services as it will help in a “faster and more efficient rollout of our LTE and LTE-Advanced network, and eventually, our 5G base stations.”

Tapping tower firms is also expected to help telcos trim capital expenditures that go to building passive infrastructure assets.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is aiming to have 50,000 common towers built in the next seven to 10 years. To encourage telcos and independent tower providers to take part in this plan, the DICT commits to offer assistance in securing permits to agreements that are formed for shareable towers.

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