Telecom Towers: edotco set to advance mobile connectivity in the Philippines


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 a Philippines presence became clearer following positive developments with the introduction of a common tower policy.

edotco has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DICT in the form of a joint commitment to bringing 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.

Chief Executive Officer of edotco, Suresh Sidhu said, “The Department of Information and Communications Technology (“DICT”) recently proposed to open the market and accredit independent tower companies. 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 modernising existing 3G networks to improve customer experience. To do this, the sector requires more cell towers, antennas, and base stations across the nation.

Rethinking telecom towers

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 three to five 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% of sites are taking up repetitive resources worth USD380 million, alongside standalone energy systems amounting to some USD127 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 3Q2018. 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.” added Suresh.

edotco has implemented a diverse range of solutions to bring reliable connectivity and deliver positive impact to the communities in its operating markets. In the five years it has been in operations the company has pioneered numerous innovative solutions including in-building solutions for improved coverage, street furniture and camouflage towers that blend in naturally with the environment, the use of bamboo as an alternative sustainable material in the construction of towers, 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.

Suresh explained, “Our decision to focus our efforts in the Philippines is motivated by the clear opportunity to rethink the telecommunications landscape. As an independent tower company, we are in the right position to facilitate and manage the advancements of the industry, and its impact on the 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 should we get the opportunity. 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.