‘Third player’ won’t be burdened by 2G legacy systems — DICT

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THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that the third entrant into the telecommunications industry will have an advantage over the incumbents because it will not be burdened with legacy systems.

It said unlike PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. the “third player” will immediately be able to offer third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) services, with no need to maintain 2G systems, which are being phased out across the region.

DICT acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said that the third player does not need 2G infrastructure.

“2G has actually been phased out in countries like Singapore, South Korea… Globe and Smart still serve the 2G market, but the third player can immediately enter and offer 3G and 4G,” Mr. Rio said in a phone interview.

He said however that for the long term, 2G frequencies will be part of the planned reallocation or re-farming of frequencies.

“But we are coming up with policies for the equitable distribution of frequencies which include frequency re-farming to include 2G frequencies,” Mr. Rio said.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has said that the third player will have to be allocated more 2G frequency to be able to serve the 2G market, with many Filipinos still using non-smartphones.

Around 300 megahertz (MHz) is available to the third player, including third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) spectrum. The government however has to decide on how these will be allocated — whether through an awarding without a fee or through an auction. The DICT supports awarding while the Department of Finance (DoF), a member of the oversight committee for third-player selection, is pushing for an auction.

The DICT wants to refarm frequency to ensure long-term equitable allocation. Mr. Rio however has said that legislation might be needed if the incumbents are not to sue.

A allocation bill has been filed in the Senate. Senate Bill 1742 (“An Act Providing for the Allocation and Management of the Radio Frequency Spectrum”) proposes the division of usable spectrum into sufficient blocks to ensure adequate competition, and a competitive bidding process for frequency assignment.

The DICT aims to select the third player within the year.

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