MANILA – Three firms have expressed interest in becoming the country’s third major player in the local telecommunications industry.
The Philippine Telegraph and Telephone (PT&T), Now Corporation, and Converge ICT are eyeing to form their separate consortia with foreign partners, according to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) officer in charge Eliseo Rio Jr.
DICT is yet to get the official bidding documents that will formalize the firms’ interest in becoming a major telco player.
Last month, the department released its memorandum, stipulating that any prospective third telco player should have a significant financial investment for five years, a valid congressional franchise, must not be a subsidiary affiliate, or have any corporate or financial interest with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom as of December 31, 2017, and have a written and binding commitment from a foreign venture company.
“What we really want to have is as many contenders as possible, as this will really benefit the public, which is not served well by existing telcos. There is now a third telco player with major financial clout that can really compete with Globe and Smart. Ang instruction ni President we must come up with a third player na di maibibili ng duopoly (The President’s instruction is we must come up with a third player that will not be taken over by the duopoly)”, Rio said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the preliminary conference on the guidelines for the entry of a new telco player in Quezon City on Wednesday.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is set to promulgate on February 19 the memorandum circular containing the terms of reference for the selection and the assignment of radio frequencies for the new major player in the telco industry.
The new major player will be assigned the frequency bands that are now available for assignment as identified by the NTC.
The DICT expects the entry of a new major telco player by April this year.
However, the department is set to ask the President to extend by a few months the end-March deadline for the acceptance of bidding documents from the applicants.
“We are asking for an extension of at least two months from the deadline of end-March, as prospective telco players do not have sufficient time to prepare bidding documents within the existing time frame,” Rio said.
The DICT official earlier said state-run China Telecom, KDDI Corp. of Japan, LG Uplus of South Korea, and an unidentified Taiwanese company had expressed interest in investing in the Philippines to become a third major telco player in partnership with a local firm.
A prospective third telco player needs to invest around P300 billion to P400 billion over the next five years.