Eliseo Rio Jr, Officer-in-Charge at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), announced via the government’s Facebook page that PLDT Inc. ‘has fully complied with its divestment of 10MHz of the 3G radio frequency that was previously assigned to CURE [Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises].’ In so doing, the telco formally waived its rights to seek compensation for the spectrum, which Rio says marks a ‘welcome development’ in the country’s bid to find a third telco player. ‘This frequency is now available to a new major telco player,’ he added.
In February this year PLDT agreed to hand back to the government mobile spectrum held by its former CURE unit ‘at no cost’, frequencies that will soon be made available to the country’s new third operator. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was quoted at the time as saying that President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed his displeasure that the government would have to find frequencies to assign to the new telecom services provider. Although PLDT had previously set out its stall to recoup up to PHP3 billion (USD58.3 million) as compensation for surrendering the frequencies, in a radio interview, Rio confirmed that PLDT chairman, president and CEO Manuel Pangilinan had agreed to return the former CURE frequencies to the government without recompense. PLDT surrendered CURE’s spectrum assets to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) back in 2012 as one of the conditions set by the government for its acquisition of rival mobile operator Digital (Sun Cellular) from the Gokongwei Group. The NTC had hoped to auction off the frequencies but its efforts failed amid problems relating to establishing and agreeing PLDT’s compensation for recovering the spectrum. The government is now hoping to name the new player by May/June 2018.