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Foreign entrants putting up thousands of telco towers

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 1/17/2019 Richmond Mercurio
a view of a city: Foreign entrants putting up thousands of telco towers © Provided by Philstar Global Corporation Foreign entrants putting up thousands of telco towers

MANILA, Philippines — Malaysia-based Edotco Group Sdn Bhd is planning to invest at least $1 billion for the construction of 10,000 common telecommunications infrastructure in the Philippines, while the world’s third largest independent multinational tower company, IHS Towers, intends to build thousands more to address the country’s need for more cellular towers.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed yesterday two separate memoranda of understanding (MOU) with Edotco Group and Nigeria’s IHS Towers for their planned entry in the Philippine market involving the construction of common towers.

“In the country of this size, our aspiration is at least 10,000 locations (towers). We see the Philippines as having potential to be one of our largest (markets) today. Malaysia and Bangladesh are now the largest markets for us, both have about 10,000 towers and we expect Philippines to be equal in size,” Edotco chief executive officer Suresh Sidhu said. 

Sidhu said the company intends to spend at least $1 billion for the construction of common towers in the Philippines, which could be its largest investment across six other markets in which it is currently operating.

“The first thing we need is secure operators within the next six months and we can start rolling out. So within 12 months, assuming operators have also come forward, then we can get started,” Sidhu said, adding that it would take three to four years for the company to rollout all 10,000 towers.

Under the MOU it signed with the DICT, Edotco needs to secure first an agreement with at least one telecommunications operator in the country which clearly states that such telco operator would avail of the services or make use of their common towers.

Should the company do so, DICT will then enter into an agreement with them in which the government agency will facilitate and extend full assistance to the company in complying with legal, regulatory and administrative requirements for their common tower roll out plan.

The same also goes for the MOU with IHS Towers, the largest mobile telecommunications infrastructure provider in Africa, Europe and the Middle East by tower count and the third largest independent multinational tower company globally with 26,000 towers.

Ted Manvitz, executive vice president chief strategy officer of IHS Holding Ltd., said the company intends to be part of the DICT’s goal of adding 50,000 towers in the country.

“In terms of our plans for Philippines, what we are doing with the (DICT) secretary right now is understanding what our needs are. For the smallest market, we have 700 towers, and that is a good market. Our largest market is 16,000 towers. So it really depends on the market. But on this market the number should be in the thousands, easily” Manvitz said.

“Certainly, the Philippines provides a growth opportunity and a real need for existing providers,” he said.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio said the Philippines is in need of at least 50,000 more towers just to match that of Vietnam.

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