Globe says tower-building industry needs more participants

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GLOBE Telecom Inc said on Friday that the government’s decision to limit the field to two independent companies in the tower-building industry will hinder efforts to develop faster Internet connectivity in the Philippines.

In a statement, Globe General Legal Counsel Froilan Vicente M. Castelo said: “The most successful and thriving tower companies are those established by tower companies or through a consortium of MNOs (mobile network operators). Opening up the TowerCos to all MNOs avoids anti-competitive risks because even new entrants may join a TowerCo consortium.

“Limiting and building of towers to two-player independent tower companies unfairly discriminates against the other models and is contrary to best practices,” according to Mr. Castelo.

Mr. Castelo noted that the Philippines needs 50,000 cellular towers to serve 113 million subscribers. The country has about 16,000 cellular sites.

Globe cited the findings by TowerXchange, a grouping of tower stakeholders in emerging markets, which concluded that countries with the most number of TowerCos such as India and Indonesia also have the most towers. It found that India had eight companies and 461,550 cellular towers as of the third quarter of 2017, with 130,000 more expected to be built in the coming years.

The government’s draft guidelines indicate the accreditation of two companies to build common mobile infrastructure beginning in the first quarter of 2019, with a six-month building period.

The interested companies should have a P10 billion net worth with no direct or indirect ownership by the incumbents, with at least five years of experience in constructing, owning, or managing at least 10,000 towers in at least one Asian country. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio