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Malaysian tower provider allocating $1 billion for Philippine expansion

BusinessWorld logo BusinessWorld 1/17/2019
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By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

MALAYSIA-BASED tower company edotco Group Sdn Bhd said it is investing at least $1 billion to build telecommunications infrastructure in the Philippines.

During the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday, edotco Group Chief Executive Officer Suresh Sidhu said the company is aiming to build around 10,000 cell towers in the Philippines in three to four years.

“Today, Malaysia and Bangladesh are the two largest countries for us. Both have about 10,000 locations where we operate. We expect the Philippines to be equal in size,” Mr. Sidhu said during a briefing at the DICT office in Quezon City.

Edotco Group currently operates 28,000 towers across six countries: Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Philippines will be the seventh country in its portfolio.

Aside from the Malaysian firm, IHS Holding Ltd. (IHS Towers) from Nigeria also sealed a deal with the DICT on Thursday to start operations in the country.

When asked about its investment and rollout plans, IHS Towers Executive Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer Ted Manvitz said these details would depend on the orders it will receive from telco operators.

“It really depends… In this market, the number should be in the thousands,” Mr. Manvitz said when asked how many towers it intends to build. The government said the Philippines needs at least 50,000 common towers in addition to the existing 16,000 towers to help improve connectivity in the Philippines.

Aside from edotcom Group and IHS Towers, the DICT also signed similar agreements with local company ISOC Infrastructures, Inc. and Singapore-based ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd. earlier.

China Energy Equipment Co. Ltd. is also scheduled to sign an MoU with the DICT on Friday.

Under the MoU, the government will assist tower companies in securing permits to build cell sites — a problem that has hampered the network expansion of PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc.

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