PLDT skeptical about sharing cell towers with competitors

Telecommunications firm PLDT is not too keen about sharing its cellular towers with competitors, especially since this may open the door for just any new industry player to use them in their network rollout.

“Our position for this time is we don’t see the need to share our network elements, including the towers,” PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a press conference on Thursday, May 10.

This was in reaction to the proposal of its corporate rival Globe Telecom to jointly create an independent tower company that will expedite the installation and deployment of cellular towers to further improve Internet services in the country.

Pangilinan’s statement is seen by industry observers as an outright rebuff of Globe’s offer.

PLDT said any new tower should be erected in areas where a given telco has an ongoing network rollout, as it raised concerns about the costs of their construction.

“We always say to government that we will support efforts towards opening a tower-sharing business for third parties but it must be on the basis that we will not be forced to lease those towers. It has to be on a voluntary basis and must be consistent with our network rollout — in areas where we want to put our cell sites and base stations,” according to PLDT head of regulatory affairs Ray Espinosa.

“Our existing towers are not 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 added.

PLDT has allocated P58 billion as capital expenditures for this year for the rollout of its fixed and mobile networks.

Globe said it has begun its discussions with independent third parties for the creation of a tower company that will help hasten the deployment of cellular towers in the country.

It has likewise reached out to PLDT for a tower-sharing venture that will help reduce the costs of installing communication facilities in the country.

The envisioned towers to be erected will be opened for lease to new and existing players in line with the government’s initiative to open the local telco industry to more competition.

An independent tower company is seen to reduce the time needed for a new telco player to rollout given the 25 permits and up to eight months required to build one cell tower. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)

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