NTC seeks DOF guidance on 3G bid

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it is seeking guidance from the Department of Finance for the bidding of the third-generation (3G) wireless frequency license surrendered earlier to the commission by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

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The 3G frequency that the NTC will bid out belonged to Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise Inc (CURE), which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Smart Communications. The frequency had to be given up as a condition to the regulator’s approval of the PLDT group’s acquisition of Sun Cellular operator Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc.

The PLDT group told the NTC its investment price for the frequency had reached P2.125 billion.

“We want to hire accountants to act as a third party to do the accounting for us, to check SGV (accounting and auditing firm), as proposed by PLDT,” said Carlo Jose Martinez, NTC deputy commissioner.

“We have to hire another accountant besides SGV, someone without any tie-up with PLDT to countercheck the price given by PLDT and see if P2.1 is a correct price or excessive.”

PLDT acquired the 10-megahertz 3G frequency when the giant telecommunications group bought CURE in 2008.

“We’re still asking for guidance, right now were sticking with the DOF, which hasn’t given its input but we continue to wait for that,” Martinez said.

“have to check, but as far as I know we’ve sent the DOF a letter to inquire, although that’s an informal inquiry. I’ll have to see if that letter has really been sent, so that they [DOF] could give us guidance on—number one, issues regarding the accountant, [secondly]the qualifications of the bidders and [thirdly], determination of the minimum bid price,” he added.

According to earlier reports, Globe Telecom and San Miguel Corp. have also shown interest in bidding for CURE’s 3G frequency, which can help expand their broadband offerings.

The NTC had said the auction would likely be a “sealed bid,” with the regulator setting a floor price to recover the investment of the PLDT group in CURE.

“PLDT will recommend an accountant or accounting firm, then the government—the NTC—will also recommend an accountant. Then the two will recommend a third accountant, and then the three of them will do the accounting to check the minimum bid price,” Martinez said.

“The commission [NTC] will still have the final say on whatever findings are made by that committee of accountants. They will have to forward those findings to the commission, which will decide whether that [price]is appropriate, but based on their recommendation,” he said.

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