PLDT Inc.’s move to formally waive its right to demand compensation for surrendered frequencies is a “welcome development” in the preparations for a third telco player, a government official said on Sunday.
“It is a welcome development as the frequencies are now available to a third telco player,” Department of Information and Communications Technology officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio said in a text message.
This was in reaction to the letter sent by the Pangilinan-led telco to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) dated March 5, which was made public only last Saturday through Rio’s social media post.
“PLDT has fully complied with its divestment of 10 MHz (megahertz) of the 3G radio frequency that was previously assigned with CURE (Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises),” the government official said on his Facebook post.
“This frequency is now available to a new major telco player,” he added.
PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in the letter the group would not seek “to recover any and all costs of investment” in the CURE spectrum, which he had earlier discussed with Rio.
“Accordingly, the new assignee of the Affected Frequency shall have no obligation to reimburse the PLDT group for any of the said costs,” Pangilinan added.
The telco also included a letter dated March 4 of this year “confirming that CURE will not claim any cost associated with the Affected Frequency in the event such frequency is eventually assigned by the Commission to another qualified telecommunication company.”
“[T]he PLDT group is deemed to have fully complied with its obligation to divest itself of the Affected Frequency,” Pangilinan said.
The government awarded the 3G frequency to CURE in 2006. The defunct CURE, which was previously owned by Roberto Ongpin, was acquired by PLDT in 2007 to launch a service called Red Mobile, which was later discontinued.
PLDT surrendered CURE’s 3G frequency to the NTC in 2012 as part of the conditions set by the government for PLDT’s acquisition of Sun Cellular.
With the formal surrender of the CURE frequency at no cost, the government will now be able to award it to the third telco player.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the opening up of the telecommunications industry to a third major player in order to break the so-called duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom and to improve broadband service in the Philippines.
The government is targeting to name the new player by the end of May or by June 2018.