NTC decides to extend BellTel’s cellular licence

24 Sep 2009

The Philippines’ telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has granted Bell Telecommunications Philippines (BellTel) regulatory approval for an extension of its cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) licence even though it has not yet launched a commercial service. The watchdog’s decision grants BellTel the provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a mobile telecoms network in certain areas for a further three years until 17 April 2012, BusinessMirror reports. The operator was originally awarded a permit in October 2007, valid until April this year, but failed to launch saying it lacked the requisite frequencies to offer a service. The online journal cites an NTC official as saying: ‘There is a delay in the setting up of the system due to facts and circumstances beyond its control, the major and principal reason is the fact that no frequency has been allocated to operate its mobile operation.’ Having secured a reprieve, BellTel has assured the NTC that as soon as the regulator assigns the necessary frequency, it will begin to implement the rollout plan. The company has submitted a number of applications for spectrum but cannot move until the NTC reallocates the 1710MHz-1720MHz)/1805MHz-1815MHz band for CMTS. Even then, this would not guarantee that BellTel is reassigned the said frequencies as a number of firms are thought to have also applied for them.

In the wake of the NTC’s announcement, Express Telecommunications Company Inc (Extelcom) complained against the decision, with its majority shareholder, Trans Digital Excel Inc (TDE), saying that given BellTel’s frequencies have not been operated for eleven years for CMTS services, the regulator should reallocate. ‘BellTel’s assigned frequencies in 1998 within the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 1805MHz-1815MHz band is for a wireless local loop, which has been rendered virtually obsolete by current technology and should thus be put to different use,’ said TDE legal counsel Plaridel Bohol II.