MANILA, PHILIPPINES (4 March 2024) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and iSON Tower Limited Inc. have signed a Php2.4 billion loan as part of a broader Php4.8 billion cofinancing package (around $85 million) led by ADB to support the construction, development, and operation of 800 shared telecommunication towers to help expand digital connectivity for underserved communities across the Philippines.

ADB and Security Bank Corporation, a leading Philippine bank, are each providing Php2.4 billion toward the financing package on a 12-year tenor, with ADB structuring the loans. The project financing is structured to mitigate risks related to greenfield financing of telecommunications towers in the Philippines. The country’s two dominant telecommunication service providers, Globe Telecom, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc., both have master lease agreements signed with iSON who leases the land, builds the infrastructure, and handles the management, security, and maintenance of these towers.

"Expanding and enhancing telecommunications infrastructure is vital to bridge the digital divide, empower communities, and foster economic growth and development in the Philippines,” said ADB Director General for Private Sector Operations Suzanne Gaboury. “Shared infrastructure services, like those provided by iSON Tower, will give underserved communities better access to communication, as well as to work in the digital economy, e-health services, access online education, e-government services, and to prepare for disasters.”

Smartphone usage in the Philippines is among the most widespread in Southeast Asia, but the country has limited tower coverage—with only 240 towers per million population. In 2019, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) accelerated the rollout of shared telecom towers by allowing infrastructure companies to build and manage these towers on behalf of mobile network operators. The shared infrastructure will reduce the mobile network operators’ operational costs, allowing them to focus on providing better services to consumers.

"Ensuring reliable, quality connectivity is paramount to meeting the constantly evolving digital needs in the Philippines. As part of our dedication to bolstering telecom infrastructure across the Philippines, iSON has made significant investments since 2021,” iSON Tower Founder and Chairman Vivek Gupta said. “And with the partnership of ADB and Security Bank Corporation, iSON is committed to strengthen the country’s telecom infrastructure landscape for 5G and beyond."

iSON Tower is one of the independent tower companies licensed by the DICT to build and manage telecom towers. It is a part of the iSON Group, a leading information and communication technology company and an emerging market specialist, with a presence in over 30 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. iSON Tower is focused on providing nationwide digital shared infrastructure with a comprehensive portfolio of built-to-suit macro towers, new-gen camouflaged solutions, solar solutions, and small cells, among others.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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