Telco frequency redistribution policy expected by 1st quarter

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DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. — PHILSTAR

By Denise A. Valdez

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it will be releasing by the first quarter of 2019 a new policy that would allow it to take back and redistribute radio frequency currently controlled by telecommunications companies, possibly opening the door for even more telecommunications companies.

“There will be laws that will come out first quarter of next year that will redistribute frequencies more equitably,” outgoing DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said in an interview on Thursday.

“The frequencies are a very limited resource that have been awarded. Once we take back the frequencies, we (could) have a fourth, even fifth telco,” he said.

He noted the frequency would not be taken back if the users prove they serve a certain number of subscribers.

“You could measure this by the number of subscribers. In 2G for example, the number of subscribers that use it is getting smaller. So we could take back the 2G frequencies,” Mr. Rio said.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has said that regulatory reforms are necessary to ensure the telecommunications industry’s new entrant is competitive against incumbents PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc.

The consortium of China Telecommunications Corp., Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., with franchise holder Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co., Inc. (Mislatel) was declared the industry’s third player.

It was awarded frequency bands of 700 megahertz (MHz), 2100 MHz, 2000 MHz, 2.5 gigahertz (GHz), 3.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz.

PCC Commissioner Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe said majority of the frequency is still held by the two incumbents.

The National Telecommunications Commission said in June that 30.32% of frequencies is owned by PLDT, and 24.9% by Globe. It added 39.35% is unassigned or under litigation, with about 5.41% remaining.

Mr. Rio said the so-called “clawback” policy expected next year will help ensure a more level playing field.

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