US firm keen on building 180 more telco towers this year

AUnited States-based firm is keen on building at least 180 more telecommunication towers this year to boost the country’s telecommunications sector, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) revealed on Monday.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez met with US-based firm SBA Communications Corporation Senior Director for International Nicholas Van Slyck and Senior Director for Government and Regulatory Affairs Maria Alexandra Velez last Wednesday, April 20, to discuss the US company’s ongoing expansion in the country, particularly in the telecommunications industry.

“As the Philippines is in the middle of updating its digital infrastructure, we welcome SBA’s continued expansion in the country, which will create more jobs while enhancing competition that will lead to better and more affordable telecommunication services for the people,” Lopez said.

During the meeting, Van Slyck mentioned the company’s goal of building 180 more telecommunication towers in 2022 and its talks with mobile network operators Smart, Globe, and Dito.

He emphasized that the said local networks have been very receptive to SBA’s shared tower model. Currently, the US firm has installed 20 towers and is expecting to build 42 more by the end of the quarter.

In 2021, SBA set up its Passive Telecommunications Towers Infrastructure project in the Philippines.

The company’s application for registration with Board of Industry (BOI) was approved on March 31, 2021 on a pioneering status with a total project cost of P10.76 billion and 353 estimated employment. For its project, SBA intended to install a total of 1,470 tower structures in the country within five years.

Lopez, for his part, addressed the country’s demand for strong connectivity as Filipinos spend more time online than any other country in Asean and most other countries in the world.

“The government and the telco players are working hand-in-hand to accelerate the adoption of new technologies and next-generation platforms that are expected to boost production, improve productivity and enhance the country’s competitiveness,” he said.

In a study by Brussels-based marketing and advertising consultant Sortlist early this year, it was mentioned that Filipinos spend 10 hours, 56 minutes per day online or 166 days per year. Of this time, four hours and 15 minutes are spent on social media per day, which equates to 65 days in a year.

This placed the Philippines as the country that spends the most time online and on social media. Sortlist estimated that 67 percent of the country’s population uses the Internet.

Apart from talks on telecommunications, Van Slyck also commended the process of obtaining business permits in the country, pointing out that it has been much easier now and that dealing with the Philippines “really stands out.”

SBA also noted the strong government support to the business sector, which they said should be carried on to the next administration.

BOI Managing Head, Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon joined Lopez.

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