The Philippines’ two incumbent mobile operators and an incoming third major player broadly backed a government plan to use independent tower companies in a bid to improve connectivity across the country of more than 7,000 islands.

Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and the Mislatel Consortium expressed interest in supporting the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) common and shared passive infrastructure policy during a consultation meeting with 11 tower companies.

Since December 2018, DICT signed MoUs with ISOC Infrastructures; iSON ECP Tower; IHS Towers; edotco; RT Telecom; China Energy Engineering; Aboitiz InfraCapital; MGS Construction; American Towers; Frontier Tower Associates Management; and Phil Tower Consortium.

The agency noted the tower companies need to secure business contracts from the mobile operators for the government to provide assistance in terms of location and other infrastructure permits, along with rights of way access

Lowering costs
Acting DICT secretary Eliseo Rio said shared facilities would reduce unnecessary expenses for operators and subscribers will benefit.

The operators were asked to submit a list of areas and number of sites they will require.

Last month Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of Smart Communications’ parent PLDT, said some tower companies were sounding it out over the potential structure of a deal, explaining the “formula is flexible”, with purchasing and leasing options all on the table at this stage.

Rio said at the time the country requires 50,000 more towers in addition to the roughly 16,000 already deployed.

In September 2018, DICT outlined a new policy on infrastructure sharing and opened a public consultation on the draft rules. It plans to finalise the tower sharing policy in Q2 this year.

The Mislatel Consortium plans to launch commercial service in late 2020 .