THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has not identified a “fourth” major telecommunications player, an official said Monday.

“In terms of market capitalization, there are three major players such as PLDT group, Globe group, and DITO. There are other players, namely: Converge, InfiniVAN, NOW Telecom, and many others. This list is not in any hierarchy,” NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Monday, when asked to comment on NOW Corp.’s claim that its affiliate, NOW Telecom Co., Inc., is the country’s fourth telco player.

Mr. Cabarios added there are four entities that have been authorized to operate mobile networks: PLDT group, Globe group, DITO, and NOW Telecom.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters at the weekend, NOW Telecom said the NTC had “extended” its provisional authority to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system.

“As the country’s fourth telco, NOW Telecom, an affiliate of publicly listed telecommunications, media, and technology firm NOW Corp., is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G or fifth generation network rollout,” it added.

But industry observer and expert Eliseo M. Rio, Jr., a former undersecretary at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), said he does not know of any NTC nor DICT pronouncements declaring NOW as the fourth telco.

“They have been saying that… to boost their stocks. Today, their stocks dramatically shoot up,” he said in a phone message.

Shares in NOW Corp. on Monday closed 49.79% higher at P3.58 apiece.

NOW Corp. announced last year its affiliate’s collaboration with a Singapore-based company for a nationwide fiber rollout, which was seen to boost its ambition to become the fourth major telco player.

NOW was one of the candidates in the search for the country’s third telco service provider. The slot was given to Dito Telecommunity Corp., which is owned by Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and China’s China Telecommunications Corp. — Arjay L. Balinbin