The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of the Philippines has granted local telco Bell Telecommunication (BellTel’s) an extension to its operating licence to provide cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) services in the country for a further three-year period. The move enables the firm to continue work on expanding its national network to prepare for the launch of mobile services. BellTel, owned by local diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMC), filed the request earlier this month; its permit was due to expire on 17 April. In the filing, the company confirmed that it is ‘almost finished with its organisational build-up and has nearly completed filling in all of its component departments.’ Having already been granted a five-year period of grace in January this year in which to roll out its network, it now hopes to implement full-blown commercial services on or before 13 June 2013.
It is understood that the regulator has extended BellTel’s provisional authority ‘to establish, install, operate and maintain an international gateway facility, inter-exchange facility, very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system nationwide, telephone system in several areas in Luzon, as well as wireless in the local loop (WiLL) in the cities of Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Paranaque, Taguig, Marikina and San Juan’.
In announcing its decision, the NTC confirmed: ‘In order for the applicant to expand its network and provide services to the consumers, its provisional authority is hereby extended for three years, from the date of this order, subject to the condition that its five-year rollout plan be immediately undertaken and subject further to payment.’ The watchdog’s decision is in part driven by a need to strengthen competition in the Filipino market in the wake of the merger between Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel, trading as Sun Cellular). ‘There is a need for another mobile operator to enter the market immediately to improve competition,’ the NTC said.