GLOBE Telecom believes that the 700 megahertz band should be shared by all telecommunications providers in the country instead of being licensed to only one entity to allow telcos to provide faster and cheaper broadband service.
Such a move would also be in line with the decision of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to allocate the 700 MHz band to the global mobile industry.
“Ideally, each telco should be allowed 20 megahertz of that spectrum up and down. That’s really important because that’s for coverage,” Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu told reporters on the sidelines of an event before the Christmas holidays.
“We should split up evenly 30, 30, 30, even for networks with no customers,” Cu said.
Globe general legal counsel Atty. Froilan Castelo said that giving active and operating telecommunications companies access to the 700 MHz spectrum will allow the industry to provide broadband and data services at faster speeds and in a more cost-efficient manner.
Castelo said that as early as 2005, Globe already wrote to the National
Telecommunications Commission (NTC) requesting for an allocation and assignment of frequencies within the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands for its broadband wireless network, but NTC did not act favorably on its request.
The ITU, a UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies, has said that the utilization of the 700 MHz communication spectrum would address “digital divide.”
At the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) held last November, ITU said that using the 694-790 MHz frequency for mobile broadband would go a long way in enabling the bridging of the digital divide worldwide, and would benefit the various aspects of mobile communications.
“The WRC-15 decision represents a landmark in the development of broadband mobile on a worldwide scale, regardless of location, network or terminal used,” ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said.
The ITU decision should pave the way for manufacturers and mobile operators to offer mobile broadband at affordable prices in currently underserved areas.
In the Philippines, the 700 MHz spectrum has been a contentious issue as local telcos are all pushing for a share of the frequency.
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) currently holds 90 percent of the 700 MHz spectrum across the country, but both the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom are urging that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to distribute the spectrum evenly among industry players.
PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a previous interview that San Miguel actually holds more than the 700 MHz spectrum.
“If that’s the only frequency [700 megahertz] that San Miguel has got then they have a basis for saying that ‘this should all be ours’ but that is not true. They have frequencies in 850, 1800, 2001 and 2006. If our calculations are accurate they have a total of 310 megahertz, we only have 290,” Pangilinan said.
PLDT head of Regulatory Affairs Ray Espinosa recently said that the company would lobby directly with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on the issue, and that their external legal team was preparing to launch a legal action against the NTC, San Miguel and any of its partners unless the spectrum was shared.
The ITU’s move on the 700 MHz spectrum is supported and joined by the GSMA, which said that maximizing the unused 700 MHz mobile frequency spectrum can potentially increase the impact of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) tenfold.
The group’s Mobile Economy Asia study also found that the full use of the spectrum has the potential to create an additional 2.1 million jobs for the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.
The London-based GSM Association is composed of nearly 800 operators and more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors.