NTC gives green light to Globe-Bayan, Smart-Digitel tie-ups

2 Oct 2012

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of the Philippines has given the green light to Globe Telecom and Bayan Telecommunications Inc’s plan to jointly use mobile phone frequencies allocated to the latter company – a subsidiary of Lopez Group. ABS-CBNnews.com reports that the regulator has allowed the pair’s joint use of 10MHz of frequencies assigned to Bayan in the 1800MHz band for the provision of cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) services. In a statement, the NTC said: ‘The primary purpose of the joint use is to improve efficiency and decongest the networks of the telcos to improve their services and comply with the quality of service prescribed by the Commission. Due to the rising incidence of mobile communications complaints on blocked calls or grade of service, drop calls and signal quality, and in line with the NTC mandate … the NTC has granted the telcos’ requests.’ Globe has welcomed the decision which it says will allow it ‘to address increasing demand for voice, SMS and mobile data services, and for BayanTel to be able to offer mobile telecoms services nationwide.’

In a related development, the NTC has also allowed PLDT units Smart Communications and Smart Broadband to use mobile frequencies held by Digital Mobile Philippines Inc (Sun Cellular), the mobile operator acquired by PLDT in 2011. The watchdog approved the Smart units’ use of spectrum assigned to Sun Cellular in the 800MHz band, as well as giving them the go-ahead to use joint frequencies assigned to Smart Communications in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 2100MHz band. Furthermore, Smart and Sun Cellular have also been given the thumbs up to jointly utilise frequencies assigned to the latter in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz band, it said. Commenting on the decision to allow the sharing of spectrum, NTC director Edgardo Cabarios said that it would allow the telcos to provide better quality of service for consumers. ‘We are actually helping all of them because if they are allowed to co-use frequencies of other carriers then that would [result in] better quality for both cellular voice, text messaging and broadband services because they would have more capacity,’ he noted.

Despite the development, Smart has reportedly objected to the deal its rivals have secured, with the head of its legal department, Enrico L Espanol, bemoaning the fact that Bayan’s frequencies should have been recalled by the NTC as, in his opinion, the telco has not been using them for any CMTS services for ‘at least one year’. The NTC defended its position however, with Cabarios pointing out that Bayan is currently undergoing corporate rehabilitation. ‘We have to take into account that Bayan is under rehab. If its assets are gone then that would affect its ongoing rehab thereby posing a great threat to its viability. The purpose of rehab is for the company to be in full swing once more. That’s why we didn’t recall Bayan’s frequencies,’ he said.