Filipino-Australian company TierOne Communications International (TierOne) has said it will forge ahead with plans to roll out a PHP3 billion (USD60 million) network in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), having recently had its plans approved by the ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI). TierOne had planned to deploy infrastructure in Marawi City, but was forced to halt its programme there due to ongoing civil unrest. The ARMM said TierOne ‘had to re-evaluate its business plan’ following the Marawi City crisis, triggered by the armed assault on the city in May this year by Islamic militants led by the Maute Group. While the government was gaining headway in pushing back the attackers, the crisis remained with ‘massive destruction’ already noted in the city.
The start-up intends to continue the Marawi City rollout in due course, which will be carried out alongside the government’s rehabilitation and reconstruction programme. Local press reports say that TierOne intends to build state of the art telecommunications infrastructure for the city, and will ultimately look to cover all areas of ARMM with provision for expansion and infusion of additional capital as needed. TierOne has been given RBOI approval for a raft of different cellular services, including: 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, broadband wireless internet to homes and enterprises, and Wi-Fi for public or common areas. It targets peak downloads of 3Mbps, VoIP call services, and the rollout of complementary technology such as fibre-optic and satellite relay with an international gateway facility.
TierOne 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 ago. ‘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,’ the ARMM Bureau of Public Information quoted Jonathon Bentley Stevens, TierOne president, as saying. ‘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 Duterte to open up the telecommunications sector in the Philippines, this is the right time to restart the project,’ he added.