Globe Telecom Inc. is pushing to open up the establishment of tower companies to all mobile network operators to avoid anti-competitive risks.
“Limiting the building of towers to two-player independent tower companies unfairly discriminates against the other models and is contrary to best practices,” Globe legal counsel Froilan Castelo said.
Data from TowerXchange showed that around 51 percent of the world’s towers built by TowerCos are owned by MNOs.
“In most Asian markets, MNOs have divested or spun off their tower assets and instead rent tower space from other operators or independent TowerCos,” Castelo said.
“The most successful and thriving tower companies are those established by tower companies or through a consortium of MNOs. Opening up the TowerCos to all MNOs avoids anti-competitive risks because even new entrants may join a TowerCo consortium,” he added.
The latest draft policy rules on common tower limit the creation and operation of towers to only two independent private companies with up to 100-percent foreign equity.
Globe said the draft rules drew strong protest from various stakeholders, including ICT advocates, opinion makers and existing MNOs, calling them “anti-competitive.”
Considering the increasing demand for coverage and capacity and the implied target of about 50,000 cellular towers, Castelo reiterated that the Philippines needed as many TowerCos as possible to construct the required towers within the shortest possible time.
Latest data released by TowerXchange, an independent community for global tower industry, showed that Asian markets with the highest number of cellular towers in the region implemented a common tower policy that allowed more than two tower companies.
Countries with the most number of TowerCos, like India and Indonesia, have the highest number of towers, a 2017 TowerXchange report showed.
India, one of Asia’s early movers in terms of tower sharing, has over eight TowerCos with 461,550 cellular towers as of 3rd quarter of 2017. TowerXchange said it expects around 130,000 more to be built in the coming years.
Between 2007 and 2010, towers in India grew from about 100,000 to 310,000, fueling an increase in tenancy ratios to 1.6 per tower, data from TowerXchange showed.
Tower sharing is seen as means to address the demand for more cell towers in countries where mobile markets are fast growing. Indonesia has over 93,500 towers being served by over 11 independent TowerCos, according to TowerXchange. To address the increasing appetite of Indonesians for data, its government has implemented regulations that have made tower sharing mandatory among all mobile network operators.
Inspired by the early success of TowerCos in India and Indonesia, other Asian countries have followed suit. Pakistan, one of Asia’s fastest growing mobile markets, currently has four TowerCos serving over 34,300 towers as of the third quarter of 2017, data from TowerXchange showed.
Bangladesh has a market of about 30,000 towers being served by about five TowerCos, of which majority remain in the hands of MNOs.