More foreign tower firms needed in PH

The Philippines will need more tower companies to assure faster internet speed and put it at par with neighboring Asian countries. The search for such companies is as critical as the government’s decision to select a third telecommunications company.

The time is ripe to engage more key foreign tower companies in building a network infrastructure to serve the telecom players and the nation as a whole. The Philippines needs more partners like Nigeria’s HIS Towers, Malaysia’s Edotco Towers and China Energy, as well as ISOC Infrasturctures and Singapore-based ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd., which recently signed separate agreements with the Department of Information and Technology.

The prospects of improving internet services in the country are now promising with the keen interests expressed by over five foreign companies in supporting the necessary build-up of cell towers. As the telecom industry is being expanded to three operators, the much-needed network infrastructure should be set up sooner to accommodate the third player.

The more than 60 million users of mobile telecommunication services in the Philippines are expecting a game-changing scenario with the promise of having three telecom players now.

The required number of cell towers in the Philippines is staggering. Over 50,000 cell towers must be put up in the fastest time possible, prompting Grameenphone Deputy Director Shanshil Ahmed Shibly to say that “... for the industry to grow, the government should not limit the tower companies to two... our suggestion? It should not be limited to two, it can be more.”

Grameenphone knows where it’s coming from. It is a tower construction company and a leading provider of mobile telecommunications services in Bangladesh with more than 60 million subscriptions at a mobile penetration rate of 76 percent of the 171 million population.

Another interested bidder is American Tower Corp. with a global portfolio of over 170,000 cell sites composed of towers in advanced, evolving and developing wireless markets, in various stages of wireless network deployment.

ATC chief business officer for Asia Manish Kasliwal said in a recent government hearing here he was confident the final rules “will allow more than two tower providers... we need more companies (more than restricting it to two) if you want a reliable industry.”

The Philippine Competition Commission declared it with authority. Limiting the number of telco tower players, it said, “may raise competition concerns and be in direct contravention to the open access regime that the government is advocating for.”  

The DICT agrees and is pushing in Congress for the passage of the Open Access and Spectrum Management Bill and of a common tower policy conducive to fair competition.

Flawed findings

Motorcycle taxis, popularly known in the Philippines as Angkas, are receiving absurd criticisms. The motorcycle ride-hailing application just recently received a cheap shot from ImagineLaw, a non-government organization.

ImagineLaw’s executive director Sophia Monica San Luis and communications officer Rochel Bartolay in a Rappler article inferred that motorcycles were dangerous given their design and environmental risks, and that no amount of driver training could protect their passengers from road crashes.

ImagineLaw invoked a major study that claimed to have covered several smaller studies that were incomplete and flawed in the first place. This led one Angkas supporter to wonder if ImagineLaw has a personal beef with motorcycle taxis or with motorcycle riders in general. What is clear, says the Angkas supporter, is that ImagineLaw is “against the regulation of motorcycle taxis in the guise of being concerned about the public’s safety.”

“If they are so concerned with the dangers that motorcycles bring to the riding public, then why not move to ban all motorcycles altogether? Their selective targeting of motorcycle taxis make their claimed objective somewhat unbelievable,” the supporter adds.

ImagineLaw’s website declares that “the law is a valuable tool in achieving meaningful social change.” But if social change, for them, is depriving commuters of an important transport option and motorcycle taxi riders of livelihood which can help their families, then they must be seriously re-trained in terms of social priorities and empathy.

Security Bank’s ‘Oscar Award’

Fresh from its award from the New York-based Global Finance magazine, Security Bank received another feather in its cap after it received its fourth Bank of the Year Award from The Banker, known as the “Oscars of the banking industry.”

This now puts Security Bank in an elite circle, along with major banks in the Philippines, after bagging the recognition four times, an impressive achievement for a medium-sized universal and commercial bank.

The Banker’s Bank of the Year awards recognize banks that deliver strong financial performance and demonstrate product innovation and services and employ new technology.

Security Bank’s strategic partner, MUFG Bank, was also recognized by the same institution as Japan’s Bank of the Year for the fourth consecutive time in 2018..

The awards strengthened the credentials of Security Bank and MUFG’s strategic partnership as a conduit to better Philippine-Japanese business relations. The two banks last year arranged 229 business collaboration meetings, providing their clients a venue to expand their networks and customer base in their 2nd Business Matching Fair.

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Topics: Philippines , Manish Kasliwal , Shanshil Ahmed Shibly , Rochel Bartolay , Global Finance , Security Bank
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