THE United States of America, acting through the US Trade and Development Agency (“USTDA”), and NOW Telecom Company, Inc. (“NOW Telecom”) signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) at the 5th Annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) in Tokyo, Japan to concretize their partnership in support of NOW Telecom’s deployment of a nationwide stand-alone 5G mobile and fixed wireless network in the Philippines.
In support of the project, USTDA, a foreign assistance agency of the US government that connects private sector companies in the US to infrastructure projects in developing and middle-income countries, has agreed to provide a grant that will fund a technical assistance (TA) and 5G pilot network launch to support NOW Telecom’s 5G deployment.
The LOI was signed by USTDA Director Enoh Ebong along with NOW Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mel Velasco Velarde along the sidelights of the annual IPBF co-hosted by the governments of Japan and the United States, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US-ASEAN Business Council. The IPBF is a business forum that aims to promote trade, investment and economic cooperation between the United States and Indo-Pacific nations including the Philippines.
The TA will provide NOW Telecom with the necessary analysis, designs and plans for phased implementation of the project and conduct a 5G pilot network at multiple sites in Metro Manila to validate network performance, test 5G use cases, and provide data to inform larger scale deployment.
Likewise, the TA includes examination of available various financing schemes including grant, equity, and debt financing from potential donors, investors and financial institutions and assessment of the level of interest of funding organizations, the amount and terms of potential financing, and any specific financial requirements for the full-scale implementation of the project.
“Our goal is to deliver a clean and secure 5G network that will help achieve social and financial mobility, reduce inequality, improve health and education, and spur economic growth for the Filipino people. Our partnership with USTDA will help us achieve this important mission,” Velarde stressed.
High-ranking government officials from the US and Japan present at the forum were US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan Yasutoshi Nishimura, and US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.
The project advances priorities of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, with the goal of developing, expanding, and deploying secure digital infrastructure to power economic growth and facilitate open digital societies.
(MAIN PHOTO: (left to right, seated) Enoh Ebong, USTDA Director, and Mel Velasco Velarde, NOW Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. (left to right, standing) Gaurav Korde, Regional Partner, Bell Labs Consulting APJ; Guillaume Mascot, Head of Government Affairs APJ Nokia; Verinda Fike, USTDA Regional Director, Indo-Pacific; Atty. Ferdinand Michael Marcos Manotoc, NOW Legal Counsel and Managing Partner of Marcos Law; Francis Xavier Manglapus, NOW Corp Vice-Chairman; Engr. Rene Rosales, NOW Telecom President and COO; and Kristian Noel Pura, NOW Telecom Director).