The Inquirer business newspaper reports that NOW Telecom, formerly Infocom Communications Network, has had its congressional franchise to build and operate a telecommunications network extended by President Rodrigo Duterte until 2043. This week (22 February), Duterte signed into law Republic Act 10972, which renews the carrier’s concession for another 25 years, granting the company – which is one of the firms considering a bid for the country’s ‘third operator’ slot – a franchise ‘to construct, establish, operate and maintain mobile radio systems such as radio, paging systems, cellular phone systems, personal communication network, and trunked radio systems within and without the Philippines.’
Mel Velarde, CEO of NOW Telecom – which is around 19% owned by publicly-traded Now Corp – took to social media to announce the news that his company had secured a so-called ‘tri-mega franchise’, which would enable it to compete against the duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom on an even footing. NOW Telecom’s franchise also includes a provision for mobile number portability (MNP), which the paper notes is in line with moves by Congress to allow subscribers to keep their mobile numbers for life even if they change their telco providers. The Senate recently approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1636, also known as the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act.