THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that the earliest time for selecting the third entrant in the telecommunications industry, the so-called “third player,” is the end of August.
“End of August,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said when asked by reporters about the earliest time for naming the third player, on the sidelines of the BusinessWorld Economic Forum on May 18.
Mr. Rio said that the final terms of reference may be released by the end of June. The department is still fine-tuning the selection criteria which will include financial and technical requirements.
Among those being finalized is the final set of frequencies to be awarded to the third player.
Mr. Rio said that frequencies of Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. (Bayantel) may be available by the time of the bidding for the third player since there is an agreement to settle the issue out of court.
“There’s an agreement that it can be settled, out of court, before the bidding starts. These frequencies will become available,” Mr. Rio said.
The 10 MHz of third generation (3G) frequency, however, will not be entirely awarded to the third player, as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be studying an equitable method of distribution.
Mr. Rio said that doing so may be anti-competitive since Globe Telecom, Inc. only has 10 MHz of the 3G frequencies. PLDT, Inc. has 25 MHz, while 5 MHz is already reserved for the third player.
“NTC will decide how to distribute it equitably. If we give all to the third player, PLDT will have 25, the third player will have 15, and Globe only has 10… Globe’s traffic in 3G is greater than PLDT,” Mr. Rio said.
Around 300 MHz of frequency assignable to the third player. The DICT said this is sufficient for the third player to compete with incumbents PLDT and Globe.
Data from the NTC estimates that 30.32% of all available radio frequencies is allocated to PLDT while Globe holds around 24.9%. Some 39.35% is unassigned or are under litigation, and there is a remaining 5.41%.
Among the existing requirements for the third player are: paid-in capital of at least P10 billion; experience in providing, delivering, and operating telecommunications services in the last five years; a congressional franchise not related to either PLDT or Globe; and no uncontested liabilities with the NTC as of Jan. 31, 2018.
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