Next Mobile redoubles efforts to win 3G licence

12 Jun 2006

Filipino trunk radio operator Next Mobile says it is determined to build out a 3G mobile network, despite having its bid for a licence rejected by the telecoms regulator last year. In an interview, the company’s president and CEO Mel Velarde said his company would press ahead with efforts to win a concession if the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) decided to tender the last available frequencies for the new technology. Mr Velarde said it was important for Next Mobile’s future to upgrade to 3G, adding that it had invested USD250 million over the last eight years to improve its existing infrastructure.

The NTC has hinted that it may opt to tender the last available 3G licence to applicants that failed to make the cut during the first round of awards in 2005. However, all plans are currently on hold pending the outcome of a Congressional inquiry into the new proposal. Members of Congress have questioned the NTC’s decision to award licences without the benefit of a bidding process – a decision they claim has deprived the government of much-needed revenues. Undaunted, Velarde says Next Mobile is pressing its claim for a licence saying it has a better business case to present than Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprises (CURE), a company owned by former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin which won the fourth UMTS licence in 2005.

The other losing bidders in 2005 watching developments with interest are Multimedia, Pacific Wireless, AZ Communications Network and Bayan Telecommunications. Each have appeals pending with the commission, all of which are being held in abeyance pending the release of the Congressional inquiry’s findings.