Globe CTO highlights cell site challenges in Philippines - Mobile World Live

Globe CTO highlights cell site challenges in Philippines

21 NOV 2016

With severe challenges in obtaining permits to set up new telecoms facilities, telcos in the Philippines serve more customers per cell site compared with other mobile operators in Asia, Globe Telecom claimed.

The user-per-site density in the Philippines is about 2,244 compared with 973 in Malaysia, 860 in Vietnam and just 522 in Japan, according to Gil Genio, Globe’s chief information and technology officer.

Philippines has an estimated 21,000 cell sites servicing about 47.1 million internet users, while Vietnam, which is similar in size to the Philippines, has 55,000 cell sites for its 47.3 million internet users. Malaysia has 22,000 sites and 20.6 million internet users and Japan has 220,000 cell sites for its 115 million internet users.

According to wireless coverage mapping firm OpenSignal, the overall speed of the Philippines’ 3G and 4G networks is just 3.13Mb/s, which is slower than India (5.13Mb/s), Myanmar (4.78Mb/s) and Pakistan (3.33Mb/s). The Philippines was ranked 89th out of 95 countries.

Genio said the permitting process takes at least eight months to complete and stressed that construction of new sites is critical in adding additional bandwidth to improve internet service.

Globe has a backlog of about 3,000 cell sites owing to difficulties in securing permits from various local government units, homeowners associations and other government agencies. The operator said in March it has more than 500 cell sites waiting to be built at any given time and that at least 25 permits are needed to put up one cell site.

While some special interest groups have proposed the adoption of an open access model in the Philippines, Genio emphasised that such a policy is good only for mature economies with solid infrastructure investments. The open access model allows the sharing the physical infrastructure across multiple operators, which can contribute significantly to improving cost effectiveness.

He said such a model, however, should be applied only in industries where players contribute infrastructure investment on a reciprocal basis. “The problem is congestion because of disproportionate number of cell sites vs traffic. Tower sharing will not alleviate congestion as current sites are in [the] same locations. Tower co-location will not solve anything if we maintain [the] same number of cell sites; rather, we need to build more sites,” Genio insisted.


Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

Read more