PLDT, Globe still petitioning for a slice of the 700MHz pie

16 Feb 2016

The Philippines’ two dominant telecoms operators PLDT and Globe Telecom, which according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database control a virtual duopoly on the country’s mobile market, are claiming that it is ‘anti-competitive’ that rival San Miguel Corporation (SMC) holds the majority of valuable spectrum frequency (VSF) in the 700MHz band and are again urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to release the entire holding through a competitive bidding process. The pair, which have amassed more than 117.11 million mobile subscribers to date, argue that the 700MHz LTE band ’should be equitably distributed in a transparent manner among existing operators and new entrants in the Philippines’. Indeed, the head of public affairs for PLDT and Smart Communications, Ramon Isberto, asserts: ‘What is anti-competitive is the present situation where San Miguel controls the entire 700MHz band, as well as substantial unutilised chunks of radio spectrum in other frequency bands through various corporations.’ His words are echoed by Globe Telecom General Legal Counsel, Froilan Castelo, who said: ‘[The] 700MHz [band] should be reallocated for the benefit of the country and the industry. We have been calling on the NTC to do this since 2005 and we will continue to exert all effort to get that reallocated.’

Whilst SMC has apparently remained tight-lipped on its rivals’ claims of unfairness, its president Ramon Ang is on record as having 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.’