The development of the country’s digital infrastructure is fundamental not just in connecting people and communities but in transforming businesses around the world. That’s why the government’s call to strengthen the country’s digital ecosystem entails digital inclusion as one of the priority initiatives.
Fortunately, telecommunication companies in the Philippines have been actively doing their share in bridging the digital divide with their aggressive efforts to improve and further enhance their network quality, service reliability and overall customer service. Supporting the local mobile network operators (MNOs) in delivering enhanced connectivity is Unity Digital Infrastructure, a joint venture between Aboitiz InfraCapital and leading global private markets firm Partners Group, acting on behalf of its clients.
Unity Digital Infrastructure is a key player in the local tower market, supporting mobile network operators in improving the country’s digital connectivity.
Just recently, Unity achieved a groundbreaking milestone as it successfully hosted three mobile network operators in one of its cell sites in Cebu through its partnership with Visayan Electric Company (VECO). With this feat made possible through effective collaboration, Unity has put on air Globe Telecom as the anchor tenant, along with Smart Communications and DITO Telecommunity as co-location tenants in a single tower – effectively showcasing the shared tower model at work in adherence to PH’s common tower policy.
The Common Tower Initiative, initiated by the Philippine government, is geared towards accelerating the improvement of Internet connectivity and addressing telecommunications infrastructure issues in the country. Its main goal is to establish a shared tower model, where independent companies build and maintain cell towers that can be rented by multiple telecom providers to promote competition, lower costs, speed up tower deployment, and improve network quality and coverage.
Team Members from Unity and representatives from the Visayas Regional Teams of Globe, Smart-PLDT, and DITO visit the location of the three-tenant tower in Cebu.
“Our presence in this site reflects our strong commitment to support the government’s Common Tower initiative as we advance further in our goal to provide better connectivity for all Filipinos across the nation,” PLDT and Smart President and CEO Al Panlilio said. “We are pleased to be partners with the Aboitiz Group and Unity with whom we share the same vision of strengthening digital infrastructure in the Philippines. By leveraging on our combined expertise and resources, we aim to support the country’s continued digital transformation by bringing cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to our customers,” he added.
For his part, DITO Telcommunity’s Chief Technology Officer Retired Major General Rodolfo Santiago said they welcome this opportunity given to them as a new player to contribute to the advancement of digital connectivity and be able to reach more customers in the provinces. “We are pleased to note that the Common Tower initiative is progressing in the country and we are able to leverage on that as it allows us to efficiently build our network by co-locating on neutrally boosted towers such as this one of Unity,” shared Santiago.
Recently, Globe announced the successful first closing of the sale of 115 towers to Unity. The transaction, valued at approximately ₱1.4 billion, marks the initial phase of a larger 447 sale-and-leaseback deal between the two companies, which was signed last May 2023.
Unity Digital Infrastructure signed sale-and-leaseback agreements with Smart-PLDT and Globe for the acquisition of 1,100 towers which will support efforts in improving the digital infrastructure space and connectivity in the Philippines.
“Our transaction with Unity is crucial in propelling the advancement of the country’s digital transformation. This partnership unlocks capital, and allocates resources more efficiently. This will in turn allow us to focus on expanding and enhancing our digital infrastructure,” Globe Vice President for Corporate Finance Carlo Puno emphasized.
Last May, PLDT also transferred the first batch of 135 towers to Unity as part of a similar sale-and-purchase agreement involving 650 towers in the Visayas and Mindanao regions signed last year. This brings to over 1000 the total combined towers acquired by Unity from the two giant telcos – further expanding its digital tower footprint across the country.
These exciting developments are part of Unity’s ongoing efforts to enhance the country’s digital infrastructure space, supporting Filipinos in adapting to the fast-changing and ever-evolving digital landscape.
“Our recent acquisitions of towers through a Sale & Leaseback with Smart-PLDT and Globe have been transformative for Unity. We look forward to setting up these acquired sites for co-location as we do our part in enabling connectivity and expanding coverage throughout the country,” Unity Digital Infrastructure CEO Robin Sarmiento said.