‘New telecom deal to narrow radio bandwidth’

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LOCAL telecom experts have expressed their strong opposition to a joint venture between San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Telstra, an Australian firm, saying that it will narrow the shared bandwidth on radio frequencies and may result in another anomalous deal in the telecommunications industry.

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SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon Ang earlier said that the company is preparing to launch its mobile broadband service this year with or without a new partner.

“We will go ahead. This will be rolled out very soon or within 2016. We won’t switch it on until it’s perfect,”Ang said, adding that SMC is testing its LTE high speed internet service.

But Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, whistleblower of the NBN-ZTE scam, said any deal that will transpire will only further narrow a shared radio bandwidth.

He compared the Internet “superhighway” to a limited roadway which shares only a single gateway into the World Wide Web regardless of the infrastructure and telecom equipment deal.

“That slip is showing, and will continue to show,” he added.

Citing the anomalous brokering of former first gentleman Mike Arroyo in the botched ZTE deal, other telco specialists expressed doubt on the success of a new telecom project.

SMC also had a failed venture with another foreign telecommunication firm, Qatar Telecom (QTel), and Liberty Telecom, the holding company for WI-Tribe and Skyphone Logistics.

Liberty Telecom went into a rehabilitation program and suspended operations in 2005. WI-Tribe failed to get off the ground as losses widened because of the inability to attract subscribers with a total debt in 2013 at P7.6 billion.

The Philippine Stock Exchange records show that SMC eventually bought out its Qatari partner, Liberty Telecoms in July last year. It was also disclosed that Vega Telecoms was buying out QTel West Bay Holdings, S.P.C., Wi-Tribe Asia Limited and White Dawn Solution Holdings, Inc., from Liberty Telecoms. In the same disclosure, SMC said that Vega Telecoms was acquiring Express Telecommunications Inc., a partnership between the Ongpin clan, an ally of Arroyo, and the United Kingdom based Ashmore Group.

Lozada said a fast broadband service will always be welcomed by Filipinos but the government should ensure a clean and corrupt-free deal.

NEIL ALCOBER

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