Monday, May 27, 2024

Common tower firm secures P2.4-B loan from ADB to construct 800 cell sites

iSON Tower, one of the tower companies licensed by the Department of Communications Information and Communications Technology (DICT), has secured a P2.4-billion loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to construct and operate 800 shared telecommunication towers across the Philippines.

ADB said the P2.4-billion loan is part of a broader P4.8 billion co-financing package. ADB and Security Bank Corporation are each providing P2.4 billion toward the financing package on a 12-year tenor, with ADB structuring the loans.

The project financing is structured to mitigate risks related to greenfield financing of telecommunications towers in the Philippines.

The country’s two dominant telecommunication service providers Globe and Smart Communications both have master lease agreements signed with iSON that lease the land, build the infrastructure, and handle the management, security, and maintenance of these towers.

ADB director general for private sector operations Suzanne Gaboury said expanding and enhancing telecommunications infrastructure is vital to bridge the digital divide, empower communities, and foster economic growth and development in the Philippines.

“Shared infrastructure services, like those provided by iSON Tower, will give underserved communities better access to communication, as well as to work in the digital economy, e-health services, access online education, e-government services, and to prepare for disasters,” said Gaboury.

iSON Tower founder and chairman Vivek Gupta said iSON is committed to strengthening the country’s telecom infrastructure landscape for 5G and beyond.

“Ensuring reliable, quality connectivity is paramount to meeting the constantly evolving digital needs in the Philippines. As part of our dedication to bolstering telecom infrastructure across the Philippines, iSON has made significant investments since 2021 in partnership with ADB and Security Bank Corporation,” said Gupta.

ADB noted that smartphone usage in the Philippines is among the most widespread in Southeast Asia, but the country has limited tower coverage — with only 240 towers per million population.

In 2019, the DICT accelerated the rollout of shared telecom towers by allowing infrastructure companies to build and manage these towers on behalf of mobile network operators.

The shared infrastructure will reduce the mobile network operators’ operational costs, allowing them to focus on providing better services to consumers.

iSON Tower is a part of the iSON Group, an ICT company and an emerging market specialist, with a presence in over 30 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is focused on providing nationwide digital shared infrastructure with a portfolio of built-to-suit macro towers, new-gen camouflaged solutions, solar solutions, and small cells.

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