By Denise A. Valdez

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it is targeting to award the Mislatel consortium with its frequencies and permit to operate by the end of this month, as the incoming third telecommunications player expects to begin operations by 2020.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the Mislatel consortium is in the process of securing the go signal from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After getting the SEC’s nod, only then can the DICT award the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to the group.

Aside from the CPCN, the government is set to award the Mislatel consortium with frequency bands of 700 megahertz (MHz), 2100 MHz, 2000 MHz, 2.5 gigahertz (GHz), 3.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz.

“They are now working for the approval of their consortium with our SEC. By the end of this month, they will be given their frequencies and their permit to operate, or CPCN,” he said during the DICT’s third founding anniversary at the Quezon City Circle on Sunday.

The Mislatel consortium is the winner of the government’s bid for a new telecommunications player last year, where it sought for a competitor to industry giants PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. It is composed of China Telecommunications Corp., and Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s companies — Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp.

Under the terms of reference for the third telco bidding, the winning bidder should secure “SEC clearance that the terms of the Bidding Agreement comply with the relevant rules on the limitation of foreign equity ownership.”

Mr. Rio told reporters he is hopeful the group will secure SEC approval this week so the DICT may proceed with the awarding of frequencies and CPCN to Mislatel immediately.

Pag nakuha nila yun, hopefully by this coming week, pwede na sila magpunta sa DICT. But they still have to post a performance bond of P25.7 billion bago ibigay ng DICT yung kanilang CPCN at yung mga frequencies (Once they get the SEC approval, hopefully by this coming week, they can go to the DICT. But they still have to post a performance bond of P25.7 billion before the DICT can give their CPCN and the frequencies),” Mr. Rio said.

Mislatel Spokesperson Adel A. Tamano confirmed in a mobile message to BusinessWorld the group has started the process for its SEC application, but cannot guarantee that it will get the SEC nod this week.

“We have started the process for our SEC application. When we get the CPCN will be dependent on the SEC, NTC (National Telecommunications Commission), and DICT. And we are doing the steps needed to comply to get the CPCN,” he said.

Mislatel earlier said it aims to start commercial operations in the second quarter of next year.

Mr. Rio noted once the government gives the CPCN and frequencies to Mislatel, it will start monitoring Mislatel’s compliance to its commitments, such as the fulfillment of its promise to provide an average broadband speed of 27 Megabits per second (Mbps), cover 37.03% of the national population and invest P150 billion in capital and operational expenditure in the first year of its operations.

If Mislatel fails in fulfilling its commitments, the government will recall the CPCN and frequencies it will award to the group.

“We are promising our people that by next year, they will feel a very big improvement in our ICT environment, because by that time, we will have the third telco operating already…. By next year, the DICT envisions a faster, reliable and consistent internet connection brought on by helping market competition of telcos,” Mr. Rio said.