Globe ups pressure on NTC to redistribute SMC held 700MHz frequencies

3 Dec 2015

The Ayala-led Filipino operator Globe Telecom is ramping up pressure on the regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), to reallocate highly valuable spectrum frequency (VSF) in the 700MHz band, currently held by a number of telcos owned by the conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMC). In another plea this week, Globe said it is ‘imperative for the NTC to ensure that the 700[MHz] band is made open to other telco players’, in order to address concerns over the state of internet services in the Philippines amid rising demand for data connectivity. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, SMC owns rights to a total block of 90MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band, split between Wi-Tribe (80MHz) and High Telecommunications (10MHz), while another player, New Century Telecommunications, holds a further 10MHz.

Despite this, Edgardo Cabarios, the head of regulatory affairs at the NTC, has said it would be ‘difficult’ to recall and reallocate the 700MHz frequencies owned by SMC, despite strident calls from incumbents Globe and PLDT for it to do so. The conglomerate also holds spectrum under the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, and its president Ramon Ang has already dismissed the incumbents’ various appeals, pointing out that: ‘Between the two of them [PLDT and Globe], they have almost 300MHz of LTE frequencies. Why do they need more? … They have all the frequencies, all the technology. All they have to do is fine-tune what they have.’

In response, however, Globe General Counsel Froilan Castelo argues that there is an urgent need to ensure more ‘equitable’ distribution of the VSF spectrum, noting: ‘The whole range of 700[MHz] band simply cannot be given to only one entity.’