Publicly-listed Filipino conglomerate NOW Corp has increased its stake in telecoms arm NOW Telecom (NOW Network) and says it plans to take the business ‘to the next level’, according to local press reports. The Makati-based group took the decision to up its shareholding to 24.23% from 19.00% after NOW Telecom’s franchise was extended by a further 25 years (starting in 2018) by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
NOW Telecom recently launched pre-5G services of up to 2Gbps for its enterprise clients, but now its aim is to extend this offer to the mass market through both fixed wireless access (FWA) and mobile (cellular) devices. With NOW Corp reportedly ‘setting the stage’ for the unit’s public listing as well as a full 5G rollout, the group’s chairman Mel Velarde said his company is looking to take a bigger share of the domestic market. ‘NOW Telecom’s licences and its evolving business plan, which is a work in progress with Nokia, would allow us to offer gigabit speed to both fixed and mobile cellular broadband subscribers,’ he said.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in June 2020 NOW Telecom revealed plans to spend USD713 million over five years to develop a 5G FWA network in the National Capital Region (NCR). Under the plan the telco aims to provide customers with broadband speeds of up to 10Gbps, spending USD152 million in the first three years, with a view to building on its current customer base which comprises business users, and people living in high-end homes/apartments in high-density residential areas. Then, in December it selected Nokia as its preferred equipment supplier to roll out a Standalone (SA) 5G network and explore 5G use cases in the Philippines.