The Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has confirmed it will auction off radio spectrum relinquished by the country’s de facto duopoly – PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom – in a bid to establish a new third player in the local mobile market. NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba confirmed that the terms of the reference and bidding are being thrashed out, noting: ‘We will try to finish [the terms of reference by the middle] of next year.’ Further, Cordoba suggested that the government would look to auction off blocks of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2500MHz-2700MHz and 3400MHz-3500MHz bands that were returned by PLDT and Globe, including the 3G frequencies of the former Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise (CURE) business.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Cordoba, discussing the plan to sell a ‘full set’ of 3G and 4G spectrum, suggested that companies already holding frequencies would be barred from the process – i.e. limiting it to new players – although he noted that several factors would need to be ironed out before the tender could go ahead. Crucially, the NTC needs to resolve the legal dispute between the anti-monopoly body, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), and incumbent operators Globe and PLDT over the telcos’ joint acquisition of the telecoms assets of San Miguel Corp (SMC) in May this year. The outcome of the case could involve the final ownership of mobile frequencies, including 20MHz of much-coveted 700MHz spectrum, which PLDT and Globe contend are theirs.
The final terms of the auction need to be sanctioned by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), with rumours growing that a number of firms are in the frame, such as Mel Velarde’s NOW Telecom and businessman Dennis Uy’s Converge ICT Solutions.