Telcos press NTC to reassign frequency

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Telecommunications giant Globe Telecom (Globe) is appealing to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to immediately re-assign the 700-megahertz frequency which is currently held by San Miguel Corporation (NTC).

“We respectfully urge the National Telecommunications Commission to immediately reassign the 700 megahertz (MHz) of frequency currently designated for use by San Miguel Corporation to ensure a more equitable sharing of the spectrum among telco players in the country,” Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said in a statement sent to reporters Wednesday.

Globe said given ongoing concerns on the state of Philippine internet and increasing customer demand for high-speed data connectivity, it is imperative for NTC to ensure that the 700 band is made open to other telco players.

The Ayala-owned telco suggested that reassigning the controversial 700 megahertz frequency would allow telcos to provide better broadband and data services to consumers.


“Reassignment of the frequency is also in line with global practice of allocating it to several telco players. The whole range of 700 band simply cannot be given to only one entity,” Globe’s statement said.

Meanwhile, amid the rivalry over the 700 MHz spectrum in the telecommunications industry, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) said it has referred to its legal department the matter on a “misleading statement” made by a top official of the NTC.

“It is unfortunate that NTC Director Cabarios made misleading unofficial and personal statements regarding the true state of the 700 MHz radio frequency band in the country and the procedure involved in the repurposing of the use of radio frequencies under NTC rules and regulations, particularly as a result of technological advancements and the consequent emerging global regulatory and commercial practices,” a PLDT statement said.
The clamor sprouted from a comment made by NTC director Edgardo Cabarios on the 700 MHz issue.

Cabarios said the issue on the 700MHz spectrum currently held by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and which PLDT Globe are lobbying to be bid out, would be a long and painful process because it has to go through judicial proceedings.

PLDT’s head of regulatory affairs and policy regulation Ray C. Espinosa said in the statement released by PLDT Tuesday: “These statements have created confusion in the minds of local and foreign investors, who have been closely following developments in the Philippine telecommunications sector.”

“Unofficial and personal and biased,” PLDT President and CEO Napoleon Nazareno said in a press briefing Tuesday.

According to PLDT, Cabarrios prejudged the merits of the applications and preempted the decision of the NTC Commission en banc on the matter “in clear and wanton disregard of the applicable rules and procedures of the Commission.”

In the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) held in Geneva last week, the ITU formally moved to allocate the 700 MHz band (specifically 694-790 MHz) to the global mobile industry.

ITU officials specifically stated that this move was taken to help bridge the digital divide, pointing out that the long range of radio over the 700 MHz band will be especially beneficial for underserved, rural areas.

These initiatives and actions underscore the globally recognized value of the 700 MHz radio frequency band in providing more cost-efficient mobile internet access, at much faster speeds, and with superior coverage and better in-building penetration at a time of unprecedented global mobile data usage and growth.

“If he (Cabarios) had his way, he would, without any legal and equitable basis, seek to deny these technological and commercial benefits from the current millions of subscribers of Smart and other mobile telecommunication operators,” Espinosa said in the statement.

PLDT’s statement further said Cabarios would “deny the government the opportunity and ability to auction this valuable radio frequency band (dubbed globally as the ‘digital dividend’) and raise much-needed government revenues as has been done in many countries including Australia.”

It added: “Director Cabarios conveniently omitted to clarify that the Philippine government had occasion to reallocate 3G radio frequencies to existing and new mobile telecommunication operators in 2005, and in the process generate hundreds of millions of pesos in revenues for the Philippine government.”

Espinosa said “Cabarrios created the misperception that existing mobile
telecommunication operators could no longer apply for, and be given equitable allocation of, additional and new radio frequencies even when needed by the demands of the public service.”

The PLDT statement said further: “For these reasons, we have referred the statements of Director Cabarios to our legal counsel for appropriate judicial and administrative actions.”

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