Globe Telecom hives off towerco as bidders gather for Philippines licence

Globe Telecom hives off towerco as bidders gather for Philippines licence

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The Philippines financial regulator has approved Globe Telecom’s plan to hive off its tower business into a separate company.

Globe said the plan – first mooted in July after rival company PLDT rejected a joint tower company – “will help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers in the country”.

The regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), approved Globe’s establishment of an independent tower company. The new company, GTowers, will be in charge of installing cell towers for the delivery of services to Globe’s subscribers. Globe said earlier that all its tower assets would go to GTowers on approval by the SEC.

However, GTowers might not remain a captive towerco: it might also lease capacity to other telcos, a significant move in the light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to license a competitor to Globe and PLDT.

Duterte, speaking after a visit to China’s president Xi Jinping, first suggested that a Chinese operator would be preferred for the third licence, but no Chinese company has come forward publicly.

Now TeleGeography reports today that acting telecoms secretary Eliseo Rio says both AT&T and Telenor have expressed interest in a Philippines licence. “We are not yet sure if they will submit a bid [but]… they’re interested, so they’re here,” said Rio, according to TeleGeography. “There might be two to three [bidding groups] that are ready by October. We’ll play it by ear.” Capacity reported yesterday that Viettel has expressed interest in the Philippines licence.

Meanwhile, according to reports from Manila, the government’s Department of Information and Communications Technology wants to approve two independent tower companies by the first quarter of 2019. It plans to follow that with a common tower policy, according to Rio.

The Philippines, with a population of 100 million, has fewer than 20,000 towers. The government wants to see 50,000 more towers built.


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