Court bars NTC from reallocating Extelcom’s frequencies

14 Jul 2009

A court in Manila has granted Trans Digital Excel Inc’s request for a temporary injunction against the regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), The Manila Times writes. The edict stops the watchdog from reallocating the 1710MHz-1720MHz, 1805MHz-1815MHz bands from wireless in the local loop (WiLL) to broadband wireless access (BWA) during Trans Digital’s mobile unit Extelcom’s corporate rehabilitation period. The court said the technical studies and expert opinion presented by Trans Digital adequately demonstrated the group’s assertion that the frequencies would cause signal inference to Extelcom’s cellular telephone operations in its assigned 1720MHz-1725MHz and 1815MHz-1820MHz bands. Quoting Trans Digital, the court said the interference generated by the reallocation and use of the idle frequencies for broadband services would render Extelcom’s 1720MHz-1726MHz, 1815MHz-1820MHz band virtually useless. This will only result in preventing the re-launch of services under Extelcom’s rehabilitation, the court said.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Extelcom was the country’s first mobile operator when it launched services in 1992 over its AMPS network offering services in the 800MHz band. However, the arrival of GSM competition marked the beginning of the end for AMPS, and the cellco soon found itself floundering in the wake of the likes of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. Extelcom was awarded a GSM concession in 2001 and revealed plans to move to the new technology, but in 2003 it changed direction, and said it was looking to install a CDMA-based network instead. The operator appeared dead and buried until rumours emerged it was looking to re-enter the wireless market via the GSM platform. According to Extelcom director Luisito Sapiera, the company intends to utilise its existing frequency allocation in the 880MHz-890MHz frequency band, together with a paired link in the 925MHz-935MHz frequency band which it has requested from the NTC. Extelcom is currently controlled by former creditor turned shareholder Trans Digital Excel Inc which acquired a 59.04% stake in Extelcom as a result of negotiations with Millicom International Cellular, one of the original shareholders in Extelcom.