The Philippines’ telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has awarded full-service telecoms provider Bell Telecommunications Philippines (BellTel) an 18-month permit to build and operate a digital communications network or mobile telecoms network in the country. The Filipino watchdog has placed a condition on the award: the licence is it says ‘subject to the condition that (BellTel) shall within six months from the issuance of the provisional authority, submit proof that the subject PHP120 million [USD2.73 million] worth of shares has been fully paid by the stockholders’. Based on the NTC’s estimation, the operator will need to raise additional capital of PHP117.9 million to meet the regulator’s equity requirement for the entire project – which is thought to total PHP595.2 million. It will also need to source PHP238.5 million worth of CAPEX between now and 2009 in order to roll out a CDMA2000 1x network operating in the 1800MHz band.
BellTel, a 100% Filipino-owned company, began commercial operations in January 2007. It is already licensed to provide fixed line, internet, leased line and data services and has a particular emphasis on delivering services to the central business districts (CBD) where 70% of the country’s commerce is conducted. As part of its CDMA rollout it will deploy 180 base stations and aims to sign up around 85,000 subscribers in its first year of operations. It is understood it will charge PHP4.50 per minute for cellular calls and PHP750 per month for fixed voice call services.