GMA News reports that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has decided to reinstitute a PHP10 billion (USD193 million) minimum paid-up capital requirement on the Philippines’ prospective third telecoms operator, despite earlier seeming to have abandoned such a measure. Last month, in a move that some interpreted as a relaxing of its position, DICT dropped the requirement for the would-be third player to have the minimum capital limit, focusing instead on its revised draft guidelines on the newcomer’s rollout plans, specifically its coverage, internet speed, and range of services after five years. However, in a statement to reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s Technology for Inclusion forum in Pasig City last week, DICT officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio confirmed that the condition ‘is still part of the selection process’. Rio said that reinstating the requirement should help to ‘eliminate those who are not serious players’, pointing out: ‘If you cannot produce PHP10 billion, how can you compete with Globe and [PLDT’ Inc’s] Smart, who are already hundreds of billions in assets?’
With the government anxious to set up a competitor to challenge the might of Globe Telecom and PLDT, Rio confirmed that a select committee is currently reviewing the terms of references being crafted by the DICT and NTC. The final terms of reference are targeted to be released by mid-May, after which it will undergo public consultations before the DICT can start accepting bids before the President’s State of the Nation Address on 23 July 2018.