A TOTAL OF four tower companies have signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) this week as high demand for towers in the country makes the Philippines an attractive market.
On Thursday, the DICT welcomed its 12th common tower provider, J.S. Cruz Construction and Development, Inc., after it signed MoUs with three foreign firms last Tuesday.
Frontier Tower Associates Management Pte. Ltd.; the consortium of Global Networks, Inc. (GNI) and JTower, Inc.; and American Tower Corp. (ATC) signed MoUs with the DICT earlier this week.
The government has been welcoming waves of tower providers since December. The total as of Thursday is 12, but the DICT is not keen on stopping anytime.
“Talagang kulang tayo ng towers [We really lack towers]… Even telcos (agree), that’s why they’re interested (in the common tower initiative)” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said earlier this week, when asked about the growing number of tower providers entering the country.
GNI Executive Director Devid H. Gubiani told reporters the Philippines is an attractive market for tower providers.
“Very simply, you have a hundred million people in the Philippines. If you take just a very basic room, you should have between 50,000 and 60,000 towers. Today, the number is 16,000… The market for bringing out a new tower infrastructure has to really take place,” he said.
“We see this as a great way of getting the whole industry together. We need definitely more than one player, definitely more than 10, in order to get all these efforts together to really ultimately benefit the users in the Philippines,” Mr. Gubiani added.
Sudhir Prasad, chief executive officer of ATC in Central and South East Asia, also recognized this demand as a motivation to enter the Philippine market.
“We see that this is a market where there’s an upward potential of having a total amount of towers within the range of 45,000 to 55,000,” he said, adding that the entry of a third telco player further strengthens this need.
“The Philippines is a market that ATC believes may have the potential to be an interesting opportunity provided that the right assets, commercial terms and market dynamics develop at appropriate economics,” Mr. Prasad added.
But Mr. Rio admitted they could not tell if all the tower firms would prosper in the country.
“We still don’t know as of now if that is more than what the industry can accommodate, but definitely this exercise will give us indicators,” he said.
As for the DICT, the MoU it seals with the tower companies is an assurance that it will assist them in regulatory compliance as soon as they seal tower orders from the telcos.
Aside from Frontier Tower Associates, GNI-JTower consortium, ATC and J.S. Cruz Construction, the other firms that make up the 12 providers 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.; Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and MGS Construction, Inc.
The DICT is targeting to have an additional 50,000 towers in the next seven to 10 years. — Denise A. Valdez