Advancing Phl’s digital infrastructure

The way we live changes significantly overtime, more so during the past two years when we had to deal with unprecedented situations and adjust to the “new normal.”

As we all go through the lingering impacts of the pandemic, having a reliable Internet service became extremely important, both in our personal and professional lives. Almost everything is digital now, and Internet connectivity has become an essential part of our everyday lives.

According to AlphaBeta, a strategic economics consultancy firm, the Philippines’ Internet economy was estimated to be valued at $7.5 billion, and with the growing number of digital users, the figures are expected to grow further by 30 percent to $28 billion come 2025. At the onset of the pandemic alone, Filipinos aged 16 to 64 were said to have spent the highest average amount of time using the Internet.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic when people became highly dependent on the Internet for their productivity, the importance of meeting rising demand for data and strengthening the country’s digital infrastructure was even more emphasized.

Both the government and telco players needed to level up the services they provide to consumers in the midst of mobility restrictions. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), during the peak of the pandemic under the Duterte administration, established the common tower policy to improve information, communication and technology (ICT) services in the country.

This initiative also frees telco companies from the costly capital of building and operating their own telecommunication towers, with independent tower companies now engaged in the development of shared tower infrastructures and expansion of wireless network coverage. This allows telco companies to focus on their core business of providing improved services that their customers need.

Programs that will lead to improvements in the ICT industry and benefit the consumers are always a welcome development and should be supported.

Case in point: In 2021, Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corporation (MIESCOR) partnered with Stonepeak, a US-based global infrastructure investor, to actively pursue tower opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.

Just recently, their joint venture called MIESCOR Infrastructure Development Corp. (MIDC) signed a tower sale and leaseback agreement with Globe, one of the Philippines’ major telco players.

The P26.2-billion deal involving 2,180 Globe towers and related passive telco infrastructure marks a critical milestone in MIDC’s strategy to enter the digital infrastructure space, according to MIDC chairperson Ray Espinosa, acknowledging the vital role projects like this play in driving the country’s economic growth and social well-being through digital inclusion.

The deal, which will make Globe the anchor tenant of the towers at a monthly rate of P100,000 per tower for an initial 15 years, also involves a commitment for additional 750 build-to-suit towers.

Espinosa said MIDC will pursue more opportunities that will help the company achieve its aspiration to become a trusted telco tower operator in the Philippines and eventually, a market leader in the digital infrastructure business.

This partnership similarly will benefit us, ordinary consumers, in terms of better network quality and more resilient infrastructure that can quickly recover from, if not withstand, typhoons and other calamities that usually affect our Internet connection.

In taking part in the collective efforts to speed up the deployment and widen the reach of reliable Internet service, companies like MIDC also contribute to the government’s nation-building efforts.

This also bodes very well to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s push for universal connectivity, expanded infrastructure development and innovation to better serve the Filipino people.

Kudos to MIESCOR, Stonepeak and Globe for this partnership!

The development of more common towers in the Philippines will be a boon to consumers, businesses and the bigger economy with technology expected to continue playing an important role in pandemic recovery efforts.

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