Integrated regional telecommunications infrastructure services provider edotco Group Sdn Bhd (edotco) has set sights on the Philippines as the next growth market to accelerate its footprint expansion in Asia. The company is keen to bring its end-to-end tower solutions and expertise to enhance the nation’s state of mobile connectivity.
edotco is a subsidiary to one of Asia’s largest telecommunications conglomerates, Axiata Group Berhad. Established in 2012, edotco holds a strong track record in tower acquisition and development, as well as driving organic growth of telecom infrastructure in markets where it operates. Today, edotco operates and manages a portfolio of over 28,500 towers across Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Placed within the region edotco operates in, the Philippines is a natural expansion for the company. The opportunity to establish its presence in the Philippines became clearer following positive developments with the introduction of a common tower policy. This week, edotco signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the form of a joint commitment to bring the best telecommunications advancements to the country. Under the agreement, both parties will partner to ensure effective coordination and implementation of technology towards meeting the country’s demand for affordable and reliable communications services.
“The Department of Information and Communications Technology recently proposed to open the market and accredit independent tower companies,” said Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco. “We are certainly encouraged by the news. An estimated 50,000 towers are required to serve the connectivity needs of over 113 million mobile subscribers in the country and edotco is well-positioned to bring our investment, innovation, and expertise into the Philippines to address this growing demand. Infrastructure sharing has proven to help mobile network operators focus on their core business and service offerings by alleviating the cost pressure of building and maintaining towers. edotco firmly believes that the right sharable infrastructure is the first step towards paving the way for the nation’s digital readiness.”
edotco is certain that the growing adoption of 4G will increasingly become the main driver for mobile subscribers. Operators are set to invest in 4G and 5G deployment, as well as modernizing existing 3G networks to improve customer experience. To do this, the sector requires more cell towers, antennas, and base stations across the nation.
With approximately 16,300 towers spread across over 7,000 islands, the mobile industry is facing significant coverage issues leading to network congestion. The subscriber-to-tower ratio in the Philippines currently stands at over 7,000 subscribers for every tower. This is equivalent to three times the recommended ratio by the International Telecommunications Union, or 3 to 5 times of the indicative ratio in Myanmar and Vietnam in comparison.
It is also observed that the absence of infrastructure sharing and uncoordinated network expansion has contributed to a significant duplication in capital expenditure (CAPEX). An estimated 50 percent of sites are taking up repetitive resources worth $380 million, alongside standalone energy systems amounting to some $127 million.
“We are constantly driven by cost efficiency and a strong tenancy ratio, which has grown from 1.50x in 2017 to 1.62x by the third quarter of 2018. At edotco, we have also progressed our business beyond steel and grass, deploying innovative tower designs and energy management solutions to deliver both cost and operations efficiencies,” said Suresh.
edotco has implemented a diverse range of solutions to bring reliable connectivity and deliver a positive impact to the communities in its operating markets. In the five years of its operations, the company has pioneered numerous innovations including in-building solutions for improved coverage, street furniture and camouflage towers that blend in naturally with the environment. edotco is also the first to use bamboo as an alternative sustainable material in the construction of towers while deploying remote monitoring systems to enhance operations efficiency and most recently, introduced the world’s first multi-tenant, multi-operator small cells solution in Kuala Lumpur.
“Our decision to focus our efforts in the Philippines is motivated by the clear opportunity to rethink the telecommunications landscape,” Suresh said. “As an independent tower company, we are in the right position to facilitate and manage the advancements of the industry, and its impact on society. We have partnered with governments, regulators and operators in all the countries we are present and have a wealth of best practices that we hope to implement here. Our focus is not merely addressing digital gaps today but on building the right sharable infrastructure for the future and creating the right environment for the nation’s digital transformation aspirations.”
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