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Globe forming new cell tower company

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GLOBE Telecom Inc. said it is establishing a new company to operate its tower assets.

The telecommunications company said in a statement that it has begun the process of incorporating a separate tower holding company. After it obtains approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company will begin divesting all or some of its tower assets.

In February, Globe said it was in talks with certain parties to form an independent tower company to help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers.

“As a major industry player we understand what this country needs to improve the internet experience of our customers. Putting up more towers based on global standards within strategic areas will make spectrum use more efficient. We should work together and find all means to supplement the build for towers — either through telcos or tower companies. This in turn will bring us closer to first world internet connectivity,” Globe President and CEO Ernest L. Cu said in a statement.

Mr. Cu added that the company remains open to working with new and existing telecom companies in the interest of national development.

Globe has said that it was open to working with rival PLDT, Inc. on the initiative. PLDT has said that the company does not see a need to share any of its network assets.

The government on Thursday released its initial common tower policy and pole guidelines, and hopes to accredit up to two independent tower companies by the first quarter of next year, followed by a six-month building period. Globe and PLDT will also be consulted regarding their target locations for placement of the towers and poles, to be shared by telcos including the upcoming “third player.”

Each accredited company can build a total of 25,000 towers over seven years. The Philippines has only 16,000 cell sites for a population of around 100 million. Presidential Adviser for Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications Ramon P. Jacinto has said that the country will need about 50,000 towers for better coverage.

The initial policy allows telcos to build their own cell sites if they do not get a response from the tower company or companies after 30 days. This is a change from a previous plan of the government to prohibit telcos from building their own cell sites once the policy is implemented. Mr. Jacinto said consultation revealed opposition from PLDT and Globe, who wanted to retain the right to build their own cell sites.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo