Globe in talks with third-party firms to put up cell tower company

By Rizal Raoul Reyes

Mobile operator Globe Telecom said it has started discussions with independent third parties for the establishment of a tower company to accelerate the building and deployment of cellular towers in the Philippines.

Photo shows Globe’s top executives during a press briefing for its Q1 financial results

Rosemarie Maniego-Eala, chief financial officer of Globe, said during a press briefing that the company is “analyzing all options” with regard to the plan. She said Globe has tapped UBS Services as its financial adviser as far as the establishment of the tower company is concerned.

Globe, Maniego-Eala added, plans to divest all or part of its tower assets to independent tower companies as part of its network expansion strategy.

Earlier, presidential adviser for ICT Ramon “RJ” Jacinto floated the idea of a common tower model where telcos would just share the cell towers that would be built by the government or a third-party provider.

Telco giant PLDT, however, has expressed unwillingness to adopt the model, with company boss Manny Pangilinan saying that they don’t “see the need to share [its] network elements, including the towers.”

At the press briefing, Globe also said it might beef up their up capital expenditure (Capex) budget of $850 million for 2018 to serve the growing needs of the market.

“That is going to be discussed during the third quarter meeting of the board. If the demand is there, we can raise the capex,” Globe chief executive officer Ernest Cu said in a press briefing held at its head office in Bonifacio Global City.

Further, he said Globe is optimistic that it will continue to achieve growth the next quarters. “We’ve got a great first quarter flowing in to the next quarters,” he said.

“Assuming there is no prime factor in the equation, I think we will be able to continue the growth that we have achieved,” Cu pointed out.

As of end March this year, Cu said Globe allotted around P6.6 billion in Capex to support the growing subscriber base and its demand for data. Of the total Capex, spent this period, about 64% was for the data service needs of its customers.

To date, Globe has a total of 38,963 base stations, with over 25,600 for 4G to support the service requirements of its customers.

Globe posted consolidated service revenues of P33.2 billion for the first three months of 2018.

Alberto M. de Larrazabal, chief commercial officer of Globe, reported the company’s home broadband business posted an impressive growth in the first three months of the year with P4.3 billion. Moreover, the subscriber base went up to 1.4 million or 17% higher from a year ago.

He attributed the growth to an expansion in the subscriber base in fixed wireless solutions (+30%), the launch of new broadband bundles and GoUnli plans.

Cu said mobile remains a major a growth driver as revenues reached P25.5 billion due to the growing demand for data as more Globe customers adopt the digital lifestyle.

Globe reported mobile subscriber base reached 63.3 million as of end-March 2018, up 8% from the 58.6 million subscribers reported in the same period last year.

From a product perspective, mobile data remains the top contributor to total mobile revenues, accounting for 48%. Mobile data service revenues reached P12.3 billion in the first quarter of the year.

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