COTABATO CITY: The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recently approved a proposed P3-billion telecommunications investment from TierOne Communications International, Inc. (TierOne) in the region.
The project seeks to put up a telecommunications carrier in the ARMM. TierOne had planned to carry out its first rollout program for Marawi City, but re-evaluated its business plan and program of works due to the ongoing Marawi siege.
Still, TierOne expressed readiness to continue with a rollout program for Marawi City in line with the government’s rehabilitation and reconstruction program. Once it gets the go signal from government, it will build state of the art telecommunications infrastructure for the City.
TierOne decided to rollout first a pilot program for its telecommunications project by building facilities in the ARMM government compound in Cotabato City to serve ARMM government agencies.
The company intends to eventually cover all areas of ARMM with an investment of $60 million or P3. 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.
TierOne is 70 percent owned by Filipinos and 30 percent 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 ARMM. So we did not start commercial operations in the region even though we had already put up 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, president of TierOne.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI chairman and managing head, 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,” Mastura said.
Hataman lauded the RBOI and TierOne for working together to push the project forward despite initial 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”, Hataman said.