25 Nov 2005
Mobile operator Smart has revealed plans to spend around PHP3.3 billion (USD60 million) on the upgrade of its networks to enable it to offer 3G services in the future. Smart, which recently conducted its first inter-network 3G video call in Mactan, Cebu City, said that the outlay would be spread over two years. The 3G investment is included in a total capital investment of between PHP18 million (USD331.6 million) and PHP20 million (USD368.5 million) earmarked for 2006 by parent company PLDT. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is expected to award five 3G licences sometime in 2006.
Meanwhile fixed line carrier Bayantel Communications has applied for one of the aforementioned licences. The operator already holds a concession to provide 2G mobile services, having been granted 10Mhz of frequency on each of the 1700 and 1800 bands, but never actually launched services. The regulator has said that Bayantel, which has suffered from financial problems in the past, will need to raise an initial amount of around PHP2 billion (USD36.8 million) in order to secure a concession.