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Bayan turns its back on NTC’s 3G licence auction

29 Oct 2012

Filipino carrier Bayantel Telecommunications Inc (Bayan) has reportedly abandoned plans to participate in the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC’s) auction of 3G mobile spectrum next year, the Manila Standard Today reports citing a company spokesman. According to Bayan vice president Aniceto Franco III, the Lopez Group-backed telco is no longer interested in bidding for the 3G licence previously held by Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE, or Red Mobile), that was recently surrendered to the government by its parent, PLDT, as a condition of the latter’s takeover of another Filipino carrier Digital Telecommunications (Digitel). Instead, Bayan intends to use the cell sites of fellow operator Globe Telecom which is rolling out Long Tern Evolution (LTE) infrastructure, under a joint agreement signed by the pair.

The official said: ‘Bayan has no plan to bid for the 10MHz [of] 3G spectrum because we still have many frequencies left in the 1900MHz band and we intend to use them as well for our LTE deployment. There is a business being developed right now [for 4G-based services]’. The telcos’ agreement will allow each party to use the facilities of the other Franco added, noting: ‘We can use the [1800MHz] facility. Because it is being shared, then we can actually use the frequencies there together with Globe. We have a commercial agreement with them, which says that we can jointly use that particular frequency and if we do it properly, then we use some of the sites provided by Globe and they can use our sites as well’.

The joint agreement has been criticised by the country’s dominant player PLDT, however, which claims it deprives the state of much needed revenue. Franco dismissed the accusation though, stating that as the NTC approved it in the first place, it is clear the regulator sees the validity of the two firms sharing resources.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, earlier this month the NTC gave the green light to Globe and Bayan’s plan to jointly use mobile phone frequencies allocated to the latter company – a subsidiary of Lopez Group. 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 welcomed the decision which it says will allow it ‘to address increasing demand for voice, SMS and mobile data services, and for Bayan to be able to offer mobile telecoms services nationwide.’

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