Filipino telecoms watchdog the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has given the country’s two dominant operators, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom, one year to effect an improvement in their mobile internet services and to expand coverage. The regulator’s ruling comes in the wake of the recent decision to approve the joint use of mobile frequencies – including precious 700MHz spectrum – previously controlled by a number of San Miguel Corp (SMC) telecoms subsidiaries. With the NTC currently reviewing the PHP69.1 billion (USD1.48 billion) deal for SMC’s assets, its deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios has urged PLDT and Globe Telecom to begin using the additional bandwidth immediately, warning that failure to comply will mean the recall of the frequencies. Further, the watchdog has told the pair that in the next 60 days they must each submit a three-year network rollout programme detailing how they intend to cover a minimum 90% of all cities and municipalities after gaining access to the so-called valuable spectrum frequency (VSF) 700MHz band.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 27 May the NTC approved the use by both operators of certain radio frequencies in the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz bands. Cabarios notes that approval for use of the 700MHz and 1800MHz frequencies means that PLDT and Globe will not necessarily need to build more cell sites to improve services in the short term. Given that a cell site takes an average of six months to one year to build, with the spectrum available for their immediate use, the two companies now need only to install radio equipment at existing sites. It is understood that as part of the SMC deal, PLDT and Globe acquired a total of 2,000 cell sites spanning from Pampanga to Batangas.