Disqualified telco bidders lose appeal

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NMP Receiving Area

THE SELECTION COMMITTEE for the country’s third major telecommunications service provider on Monday denied the motions for reconsideration (MRs) of groups disqualified from the auction last week for deficiencies in their submissions.

A copy of the decision distributed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reporters on Tuesday showed the selection committee denied the request of Sear Telecommunications Consortium — formed by TierOne Communications International Inc. and LCS Group of Companies (Sear-LCS-TierOne) — and Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) for it to reconsider their disqualification from the auction.

The two companies said in separate statements that they were notified of the rejection of their appeals on Monday night.

“The PT&T management and its legal team are currently reviewing the selection committee’s denial of the motion for reconsideration to determine the next course of action that the company will take,” the firm said in a mobile phone message to reporters.

The auction’s terms of reference provide that if a bidder’s MR is denied, it may appeal to the NTC en banc for a non-refundable fee of P10 million.

Sear-LCS-TierOne said in its MR that it wanted the selection committee to review the awarding of provisional winner status to the Mislatel Consortium — formed by China Telecommunications Corp., Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. — as its franchise holder Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel) has an exclusive contract with a member of its group, DigiPhil Technology, Inc.

But the selection committee denied Sear-LCS-TierOne’s petition, saying such dispute should be resolved in appropriate courts.

The committee’s ruling covered the consortium’s plea against its disqualification for lack of a P700-million “participation security” and to be allowed late submission of documents for the required bond. It argued that “non-submission of the participation security in the form required does not affect the substance and validity of the proposal submitted by the consortium.” The committee said it cannot accept changes to a participant’s bid submission after the deadline.

PT&T sought reconsideration of its disqualification for lacking certification of 10-year experience as telco operator on a national scale. It decried what it said was a change in terms of reference that would otherwise have qualified “regional operations” for the auction. This detail was later clarified as valid only for foreign participants.

The disqualified groups have until Thursday to appeal to the NTC.

Otherwise, the selection committee will submit a resolution on auction results to the NTC en banc, which will then declare the result as final.

The winner, which is eyed to break the duopoly of PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc., will be awarded a certificate of public convenience and necessity valid for 15 years or the length of the franchise of a bidder, whichever is shorter; and radio frequency bands of 700 megahertz (MHz), 2100 MHz, 2000 MHz, 2.5 gigahertz (GHz), 3.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez