Smart identifies 71 sites for common tower with partners

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SMART Communications, Inc. said it has initially identified 71 sites for its common tower partnership with the joint venture of edotco Group Sdn. Bhd. and ISOC Infrastructure, Inc.

“Our agreement with the edotco-ISOC Group is a welcome development that will enable us to roll out our LTE, and, soon, our 5G base stations in a quicker and more cost-effective manner,” Smart Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a statement over the weekend.

The company announced the tower agreement in a government-organized meeting last week. Smart said engaging tower providers will help hasten its rollout of services across the country, adding discussions are still ongoing for more tower agreements with other providers.

Smart is the third company to sign a deal with common tower providers for its personal infrastructure needs, aside from Globe Telecom, Inc. and Now Telecom Co., Inc.

Since last year, the government has been encouraging telcos to tap independent tower companies to build passive infrastructure for them. Opposed to the towers built by telcos, the towers built by independent providers may be shared by more than one tenant.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology is currently working on a common tower policy that will spell rules for independent tower providers wishing to participate in the initiative.

Its goal is to have 50,000 shareable towers across the country in the next seven to 10 years.

Ray C. Espinosa, senior advisor to the president and CEO of Smart, said the company is supportive of a policy that will allow telcos to tap tower providers “that meet the operator’s commercial, technical and financial qualifications and requirements.”

Smart is currently in the process of deploying its LTE and LTE-Advanced network nationwide, supported by PLDT’s P78.4-billion capital expenditure allocation this year.

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