Napoloen Nazareno, the president of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), says his firm is on course to return the third-generation mobile licence held by its Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprises (CURE) unit to the authorities by July, as per the terms of its agreement with the government. Giving up the licence was a pre-condition of PLDT’s deal to acquire rival operator Digital Telecommunications (Digitel) last year. PLDT was given a period of grace from the closing of the transaction to relinquish the frequencies it possesses. ‘We are on track to follow the agreement which is nine months after the deal has been approved for us to turn over CURE’s [licence],’ Nazareno confirmed. As such, PLDT hopes to have migrated 1.4 million Red Mobile subscribers to its sister unit Smart Communications by July 2012.
When the Digitel takeover was approved in October last year, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) gave PLDT time to execute the divestment of CURE, which includes selling its Red Mobile brand to Smart. The sister firm must then offload its rights and interests in the smaller operator, whose remaining assets include its congressional franchise and its 10MHz 3G licence. Upon completion of that part of the process, the NTC will re-auction the UMTS spectrum via a competitive tender. It is understood PLDT has invested around PHP1 billion (USD23.4 million) in CURE (Red Mobile) since its purchase by Smart from the Ongpin family in 2008.