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Final timetable for 3rd major telco set

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THE DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) presented on Tuesday the final timetable for selection of the country’s third major telecommunications service provider, with documents available for purchase by interested parties starting Oct. 8, Monday.

In a gathering organized by the DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) attended by prospective bidders and other stakeholders, DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the government is on track to name the so-called “third telco” before Christmas.

“The timeline was approved by the oversight committee in compliance with the instruction of the President to have the third telco known by November and be awarded… by December, before Christmas. So more or less, the timeline is final,” Mr. Rio said.

Selection documents may be bought online or physically from the NTC for P1 million.

The timetable sets deadline for submission and opening of bids on Nov. 7.

The government has been preparing for the entry of a third telco player to compete with incumbents Globe Telecom, Inc. and PLDT, Inc. since November last year, with an initial target of naming the winner in the first half of 2018. However, Mr. Rio said the previous timetable was too tight for prospective participants, hence, the decision to move the deadline.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said last month that he wanted the third telco named by November, otherwise he would “take over” the selection.

DICT and NTC released joint Memorandum Circular No. 09-09-2018 last month outlining the rules by which the government will choose the third major telco. That telco will be chosen according to the highest committed level of service based on population coverage (with a 40% weight), minimum average broadband speed (25%), and capital and operational expenditure (35%).

At stake is a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) valid for 15 years or the length of the franchise of a bidder, whichever is shorter; and radio frequency bands of 700 megahertz (MHz), 2100 MHz, 2000 MHz, 2.5 gigahertz (GHz), 3.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz.

Upon being named provisional winner of the third telco auction, the memorandum circular said the company must submit within 90 days its business and roll-out plans and other additional requirements. The provisional winner must also commit to the NTC a “performance security” worth 10% of its total capital and operational expenditures and a “participation security” worth P700 million.

Companies that had earlier been named as interested parties include Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp.; NOW Corp.; Converge ICT Solutions, Inc.; Transpacific Broadband Group International, Inc.; EasyCall Communications Philippines, Inc. and TierOne Communications International, Inc. Mr. Rio also named several foreign companies that are looking to participate, such as China Telecom, South Korea’s KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp., Vietnam’s Viettel Telecom, Norway’s Telenor Group, and an unidentified US company and Japanese firm.

Eligible participants should have a congressional franchise or team up with a holder of one, paid-in capital of at least P10 billion, experience as a nationwide telco provider for the last 10 years, be without outstanding liability to the NTC as of Oct. 1 and should not be related to Globe and PLDT. — Denise A. Valdez