ARMM Approves P3 Billion Telecom Investment Originally Intended For Marawi
Jul 5, 2017
The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recently approved during its 3rd Joint Management Committee and Board of Governors Meeting the Php 3.0 billion telecommunications investment of TierOne Communications International, Inc. (TierOne).
The investment project seeks to put up a telecommunications carrier in the ARMM. Initially, TierOne planned to conduct its first rollout program for Marawi City. However, due to the ongoing Marawi siege the company had to re-evaluate its business plan and program of works.
TierOne expressed readiness to continue with a rollout program for Marawi City in conjunction with the rehabilitation and reconstruction program of the government for Marawi City. It will wait for the government to tap it for the rebuilding of Marawi City, particularly, putting up its planned state of the art telecommunications infrastructure for Marawi City.
The company has decided to rollout first a pilot program for its telecommunications project by building facilities in the ARMM government compound in Cotabato City serving the ARMM government agencies.
The company intends to eventually cover all ARMM areas with an investment of US$60 million or Php 3.0 billion with provision for expansion and infusion of additional capital as needed. It will provide cellular service in 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, broadband wireless internet to homes and enterprises, and WiFi for public or common areas. With the fastest internet service of 3,000 kB/s download speeds, it will provide coverage for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services. It will be using the latest technology such as fiber optics and satellite relay with international gateway facility.
The company is 70% owned by Filipinos and 30% owned by Australians. It obtained a franchise to operate as a telecommunications service provider from the Regional Legislative Assembly of the ARMM a few years back.
“In previous years, we were not able to get a spectrum from the Regional Telecommunications Commission since the National Telecommunications Commission had not allocated the same for the ARMM. So we did not start commercial operations in the region even though we had already put up the initial facilities such as transmission towers. However, we believe that with the oft-expressed desire of President Rodrigo Duterte to open up the telecommunications sector in the Philippines this is the right time to restart the project,” said Jonathon Bentley Stevens, the president of TierOne.
Lawyer, Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of RBOI, noted that telecommunications, particularly the internet, is a big enabler for private enterprise and provides big job opportunities. “In today’s interconnected world with the rise of social media, web-based businesses and a global supply chain using the internet, such investment in telecommunications by TierOne in the ARMM will make the region more integrated and plugged into the rest of the country, while allowing the region to access and compete in the burgeoning ASEAN economy, as well as, the global market,” said Mastura.
For his part, Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman lauded the RBOI and TierOne for working hand in hand to push forward the project despite initial frustrations and setbacks. “Since the Regional Telecommunications Commission is directly under the Office of the Regional Governor, we will work to make the project a reality in the ARMM”, assured Hataman.