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AZ sees latest bid for 3G licence scuppered by the appeals court

12 Jan 2012

The Court of Appeals (CA) in the Philippines has reportedly denied AZ Communications Network Inc’s (AZ’s) latest bid to secure a 3G mobile operating licence in the country. The Business Mirror reports that the CA denied a motion for reconsideration filed by AZ, a licensed Filipino wireless operator whose previous application to operate a 3G mobile network was thrown out by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). In its three-page ruling, Associate Justice Franchito Diamante signed to the fact that AZ’s latest appeal was merely a rewording of a petition it had previously submitted to the courts – and which had been dismissed. ‘The foregoing issues raised by [AZ] in the present motion were already embodied in the petition that we earlier dismissed. The same had already been passed upon and addressed at length in the decision to be reconsidered and we find no need to belabour on the issues anew,’ the judge said.

In May 2011 the Court of Appeals threw out a case brought by AZ in which it sought to overturn two NTC decisions denying its application for a 3G licence, along with the motion for reconsideration it subsequently filed following the decision. The industry regulator rejected AZ’s application on the grounds it failed to meet the necessary debt-to-equity ratio (set at 70:30) for all existing Filipino carriers. The would-be operator failed to convince the NTC and the CA that it was not a new entrant in the 3G arena and that, as such, its debt-to-equity ratio should be based on Section 3.3(b) of memorandum circular (MC) no. 07-08-2005 and not Section 3.3 © of the same circular. AZ also failed to assert its view that it should have been assessed under Section 3.3 (b) of the MC circular, and that had the authorities done so, it would ‘more than qualify as a recipient of a 3G frequency band’. 

The NTC issued 3G licences to Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digitel Mobile Philippines (Sun Cellular) and Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise (now branded Red Mobile). At the time, bids for 3G concessions were rejected from AZ, Bayan Telecommunications, MultiMedia Telephony Inc, Pacific Wireless and Next Mobile. A fifth and final 3G licence has yet to be awarded by the NTC.


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