The Manila Times writes that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has changed its mind and decided to allow the country’s largest telecom groups to participate in the auction for the Philippines’ fourth unused third-generation (3G) mobile licence. The regulator’s u-turn comes in the wake of intense lobbying from three leading telcos — Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and Digital Mobile Philippines (DMPI, trading as Sun Cellular) — all of which already hold UMTS concessions. For its part, Smart, a unit of national fixed line giant PLDT, also owns Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises (CURE), which itself has a 3G licence.
In a revised draft circular published this week, the NTC says that ‘only applicants with existing authorisation or pending applications for authorisation to install, operate and maintain cellular mobile telephone system or mobile telecommunications networks should be allowed to file their applications for the assignment of the frequency band’. The draft went on to say that a minimum bid price of PHP65 million has been set for the paired 10MHz frequency on offer (1965MHz–1975MHz/2155MHz–2165MHz or 1890MHz–1900MHz/1970MHz– 1980MHz). The applicant will also post a bid security bond equivalent to 30% of the minimum bid price. The other telcos with applications pending are AZ Communications Network, Multi-Media Telephony, Next Mobile and Pacific Wireless.