Malaysia-based tower company edotco is looking to the Philippines as the next growth market to accelerate its expansion in Asia, with plans to invest $1 billion to construct telecoms infrastructure in the country.

The company, which signed an MoU with the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), aims to build about 10,000 towers in the country over the next three to four years, BusinessWorld reported.

In late September 2018, DICT outlined a new policy on infrastructure sharing and opened a public consultation on the draft rules. At least five companies are interested in working with the government to establish tower sharing ventures to accelerate the rollout of base stations across the country. In addition to edotco, the companies are IHS Towers; China Energy Engineering; ISOC Infrastructures; and iSON ECP Tower.

Edotco CEO Suresh Sidhu said the company is encouraged by DICT’s proposal to open the market to independent tower companies.

He cited data estimating about 50,000 towers are required to serve the connectivity needs of the more than 113 million mobile subscribers in the Philippines. The country has only about 16,300 towers spread across more than 7,000 islands.

Sidhu said the country’ mobile industry faces significant coverage issues leading to network congestion, with a 7,000:1 subscriber-to-tower ratio, some three-times higher than the ratio recommended by the International Telecommunications Union, and three- to five-times the ratio in Myanmar and Vietnam.

“Infrastructure sharing has proven to help mobile network operators focus on their core business and service offerings by alleviating the cost pressure of building and maintaining towers. Edotco firmly believes that the right sharable infrastructure is the first step towards paving the way for the nation’s digital readiness,” Sidhu said in a statement.

The company, the tower arm of Axiata Group, operates some 28,500 towers across Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.