THE TERMS of reference (ToR) for the bidding on the third major telecommunications player are being finalized as government agencies aim to resolve issues on the additional player.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said in a statement that, together with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), it has submitted a new draft ToR for the selection of the third major player, to be evaluated by the oversight committee.
The DICT and the NTC met with the Department of Finance (DoF), the Office of the Executive Secretary, and the National Security Adviser to discuss the issues of frequencies, establishment of the common tower policy, use of dark fiber by the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), and reduction of interconnection rates.
DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said these issues are being resolved to ensure that competent bidders join the process because of an attractive playing field for them, to compete against incumbent players PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. The DICT said earlier the third player could be named by end of August.
“We want to make sure that the bidders that will join are really the serious ones, and that the playing field will be good for them,” Mr. Rio said in a phone interview.
On the issue of the frequencies, Mr. Rio previously said the frequencies of Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. (Bayantel) can be available by the time of the bidding for the third player since there is already an agreement to settle the issue out of court.
The 10 megahertz (MHz) of third generation frequencies, however, will not be entirely awarded to the third player, as the NTC will be studying an equitable distribution.
Around 300 MHz of frequencies are assignable to the third player. DICT said this is sufficient for the third player to compete with incumbents PLDT and Globe.
The establishment of the common tower policy, being undertaken by the Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications Ramon P. Jacinto, is aimed at creating more cell sites to provide better Internet services.
Mr. Rio previously said the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and state-owned TransCo for the use of its dark fiber is already a precedent which interested parties can follow. PT&T in March announced that it entered into an agreement with TransCo that would allow the telco to use the government’s national fiber optic backbone facility.
DICT also said the NTC has already started a memorandum on lowering interconnection rates. NTC plans to lower rates from P2.50 to P0.50 for voice calls and from P0.15 to to P0.05 for short messaging services (SMS).
DICT on May 11 ordered the NTC to reduce interconnection charges between telecommunications companies to reduce consumer costs and benefit the incoming third player.
Mr. Rio said the involved agencies will meet again on June 8.
Among the existing requirements for the third telco are: paid-in capital of at least P10 billion; experience in providing, delivering, and operating of telecommunications services for 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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