The government of the Philippines has confirmed that at least four companies have expressed an interest in forming a tower sharing venture to boost base station deployment in the archipelago.
Eliseo Rio, the acting secretary for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), noted that the government had already signed an MoU with ISOC Infrastructure and confirmed that three other companies have registered their interest in creating a tower firm.
In November, the country’s regulator granted a mobile licence to the consortium Mislatel, bringing a long-anticipated third major player to the market to break the duopoly between Globe Telecom and PLDT’s Smart Communications. The two incumbents have a combined market share of 99.8%.
DICT will seek to help tower firms obtain permits, as well as procuring further support from the government to any such companies that enter into agreements with mobile operators in the market. Rio noted that to qualify for government assistance, tower firms would need to form tower sharing agreements with operators, saying that “support will have to depend on market forces” and that it was “not for the government to dictate on what the market should do for [companies] to get support”.
In September last year, DICT began a public consultation on proposals for a new infrastructure sharing policy which it hoped would act as a catalyst for the spread of more affordable and efficient telecoms services throughout the Philippines.
The country has just 20,000 towers for a population of 101 million people, giving it one of the lowest tower densities worldwide. This is largely ascribed to government bureaucracy, and thus is a frequent complaint of privately-owned Globe.