By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter
THE Department of Information and Communications Techonology (DICT) has pushed back its target to select a third player in the telecommunications industry to the year’s end, pending the completion of technical standards required of the new service provider.
Acting DICT Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the agency is now targeting to identify potential bidders by late July, later than their earlier goal of having a new entrant by the time President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“The best thing we can do is at least have the bidding process start before the SONA,” Mr. Rio told reporters on the sidelines of the Technology for Inclusion forum of the Asian Development Bank on Friday.
“Before the SONA, those who are really interested to be contenders should be buying bidding documents. People will know who they are, and they’ll be given around two months to come up with their bid proposals.”
Earlier this month, Mr. Rio said the DICT had a “self-imposed timeline” to choose a new entrant before Mr. Duterte’s speech before congress, in keeping with the President’s campaign promise.
Mr. Rio said the Executive is currently preparing the final terms of reference (TOR) that will prescribe the standards which the government is looking for as it seeks to welcome a new player to end the duopoly in the sector.
The terms are being reviewed by authorities through an oversight committee created by Mr. Duterte, which are targeted to be finalized by mid-May.
The first draft TOR published in February included the financial requirement of a net worth of at least P10 billion. The government initially sought to select a candidate submitting the highest financial commitment over five years, but after a public consultation and concerns expressed by interested companies, the DICT said it would be shifting its focus to requiring wide coverage and high speed.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, however, announced earlier this month that total investments needed by the new provider is estimated to reach at least P200 billion in order to “effectively compete” with the likes of Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom.
The third player will be named “definitely by the end of the year,” Mr. Rio added.