Demand for telco towers on the rise
The Philippines requires up to 4,000 new towers every year to meet the rising demand for data connectivity across the country, according to independent operator EdgePoint Infrastructure.
EdgePoint CEO Suresh Sidhu yesterday said telco players and tower operators have to put up as many as 4,000 towers annually to expand coverage, particularly for 5G.
“We think that the Philippines will need roughly between 2,000 and 4,000 new sites every year, depending on the cycle,” Sidhu said.
As such, Sidhu said EdgePoint eyes to foray into tower building next year, apart from acquiring existing assets that the telco industry is selling. He disclosed that the firm is talking to a number of tower operators in the Philippines to partner in some of the future projects.
“I think we are always open to acquiring more (telco towers). The focus is to build towers, and so we are in a discussion with tower operators,” Sidhu said.
He said EdgePoint plans to start building some of the tower assets by the middle of next year, as soon as its talks with industry players, particularly fellow operators, are firmed up.
EdgePoint entered the Philippine market in April when its subsidiary Comworks Infratech Corp. bought a portfolio of telco infrastructure from Pangilinan-led PLDT Inc.
Back then, PLDT signed sale and leaseback agreements to dispose of close to 6,000 towers to two foreign tower operators, one of which is EdgePoint.
EdgePoint spent P35 billion to purchase 2,934 towers from PLDT and will take over all of the assets by the middle of 2023.
After the sale, PLDT’s wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. will lease the towers from EdgePoint to serve the connectivity demands of its subscribers.
EdgePoint wants to become the biggest player in tower operations in the country in the long run. It hopes to dominate the growing market for 5G services, especially in urban areas.
At present, EdgePoint has invested a total of $1.5 billion to manage and operate telco towers in Southeast Asia, with expansions focused in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
In October, PLDT president and CEO Alfred Panlilio told The STAR that the telco giant could sell another portfolio of tower assets in 2023 as part of efforts to focus on its core business.