PLDT Inc. rejected the proposal of rival Globe Telecom Inc. to share their existing cellular towers.
“We don’t see any benefit or need to share any of our existing network elements, including our towers,” PLDT chairman and chief executive Manuel Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan’s statement came after Globe said it was open to a partnership with PLDT for a tower sharing venture to expedite the deployment of cell sites nationwide and cut capital expenditures.
“We’ve always said to the government, even before Globe made that statement, that we would support government’s effort towards opening a tower sharing business for third parties,” PLDT head of regulatory affairs Ray Espinosa said.
“But it must be on the basis that we cannot be forced to lease those towers. It has to be on the voluntary basis and it must be consistent with our own network rollout―in areas where we want to place our cell sites,” he said.
Espinosa said PLDT’s existing towers should not be forced by the government to be sold to third parties.
“These towers belong to us and are purpose-built already intended to support the unique requirements of our network. It cannot be shared anymore with another party. The decision on whether to unload our towers is a financial question,” he said.
PLDT programmed P58 billion in 2018 capital expenditures to expand fixed and mobile networks.
The Department of Information and Communication Technology earlier adopted a common tower policy to speed up the deployment of cell sites nationwide.
A common tower means that operators will no longer be allowed to build towers but instead lease space from a tower company. This tower company will concentrate on rapidly deploying towers to cover the entire Philippines adequately, thereby freeing up the telecom operators.
The Philippine needs around 50,000 cellular towers to have the proper coverage and provide adequate service.
PLDT and Globe have only around 16,000 towers, covering 8,000 locations.
The government estimated that building a tower would cost an average of $100,000 per tower and would need $50 billion to roll out the 50,000 towers nationwide.
Globe and PLDT’s expansion of network infrastructure was hampered by permitting challenges. At least 25 permits are needed to put up a cell site and the permitting process took at least eight months to complete, barring major concerns from various agencies, including local government units and homeowners associations.