PLDT has stated that it would support a government plan to open the Philippines’ telecoms sector up to independent companies in order to increase the spread of base stations.
The group, which runs the operator Smart Communications, has been approached by a number of independent tower firms to discuss possible partnerships under the government initiative, reported BusinessWorld. PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan said that agreements could be “flexible”, with purchasing and leasing agreements both possibilities.
The Philippines is pushing to expand infrastructure availability across the country, with DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) acting secretary Eliseo Rio noting that the country needs a further 50,000 towers in deployment. There are currently around 16,000 active towers across the Philippines.
DICT has opened a public consultation on an infrastructure sharing policy that it put forward in 2018. PLDT’s backing would add significant weight to the proposals, although five companies have already agreed to form joint ventures with the government to begin deploying base stations.
The companies that have signed agreements include China Energy Engineering, IHS Towers, ISOC Infrastructures, iSON ECP Tower, and Malaysia’s edotco which last week agreed to invest $1 billion in telecoms equipment across the Philippines. American Tower is reportedly ready to sign a deal this week.
Globe Telecom, which has long been Smart’s only effective rival, will spin its tower assets off into a separate firm after it received the relevant approvals from the Securities and Exchange Commission last year. It has held talks with other firms about setting up a joint venture.