Two new start-up operators, Infinivan Inc. and Megamanila Telecom Corp, have filed applications to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to construct and operate fixed and wireless broadband services in the Philippines. The pair were granted a franchise from Congress late last year, and are now seeking regulatory approval to kick off their respective national rollouts, local press reports. If Infinivan and Megamanila are successful in their bid, they will be able to participate in the upcoming auction of bundled frequencies for the right to become the third operator in the competitive mobile telecom market currently dominated by PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. A six-page document obtained by Malaya Business Insight confirms that Infinivan has applied for a CPCN ‘to construct, install, operate and maintain a national and international broadband and data services in all cities and municipalities in Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol and Metro Manila (Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 5 National Capital Region, respectively), the municipality of the La Trinidad of the province of Benguet and Baguio City and to charge rates on issuance of its provisional authority.’
The start-up was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 20 April 2015; its 25-year franchise became effective on 18 August 2016. Infinivan’s president says it is ‘actively engaged in discussions … for the construction of private submarine cable systems’, as well as ‘discussions with international broadband suppliers/ providers for internet access services and applications, mobile broadband, rental services, including but not limited to bandwidth capabilities Ethernet lines, mobile hotspot devices and routing from and to the Philippines with international destinations and/or territories.’
Meanwhile, Edgardo Cabarios – NTC deputy director – has confirmed that Megamanila submitted its CPCN application in December, seeking approval for the installation of an international cable landing station in Nasugbu, Batangas where the dominant players have their own cable landing stations. The facility will address the exponential demand for data services in the country, he said, noting that ‘the entry of a new small telecom player will benefit consumers as it will further open up competition that will bring down the price of internet service and improve its speed’. Cabarios is on record too as saying that the third operator should invest upwards of PHP30 billion (USD605 million) in the first two years of operation for the rollout of a national network, building between 2,000 to 3,000 base stations nationwide to compete with PLDT Inc. which has over 12,000 base stations and Globe Telecom which has over 7,000.