An unconfirmed report from online news site Inquirer suggests that the Philippines’ second largest operator Globe Telecom would consider a tie-up with San Miguel Corporation (SMC), in an effort to grab some of the potentially lucrative valuable spectrum frequency (VSF) 700MHz band currently being monopolised by the conglomerate through a number of telecoms assets. SMC owns rights to a total block of 90MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band, split between Liberty Telecoms Holdings, trading as Wi-Tribe, (80MHz) and High Telecommunications (10MHz), while another player, New Century Telecommunications, holds the remaining 10MHz. SMC also controls substantial unutilised chunks of radio spectrum in other frequency bands, and owns Filipino telcos Extelcom, Eastern Telecommunications Philippines (formerly ETPI) and Bell Telecommunications (BellTel).
Globe CEO Ernest Cu has said in an interview that the company is ‘open’ to such a deal, pointing out that as early as 2005 it had filed petitions seeking an allocation that it claims have been ‘ignored’ by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). ‘Of course, it [the prospect of buying] occurs every once in a while,’ Cu said, while clarifying that no offer has been made. ‘We are always open’.
For its part, SMC president Ramon S. Ang says the conglomerate is intent on using the VSF frequencies it holds to launch a third mobile player this year, breaking the duopoly of Globe and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). Ang says the new service will initially cover Metro Manila up to Pampanga in the North and Batangas in the South with ‘cheaper and faster’ broadband internet.