For quite some time the Department of Transportation and Communications, now the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), has been musing over how the country’s commercial telecommunications market has been all but cleanly divided up into only two national corporations, PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecom. One way the DICT’s National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) sees to break the duopoly is the introduction of a third major telecom company. Last month the DICT has listed ten local and overseas firms with an interest bid on establishing the “third telco”. No decision has been made, but some new criteria for selection were added.
CNN Philippines reports that the DICT has just put out a new memorandum circular adding new objectives to the list of criteria that must be passed by any telecom provider that would like to present a bid to become the third telco which would theoretically break the shared stranglehold that Globe and PLDT/Smart have on the communications market. In brief, they want this telecom outfit to have faster internet speeds and less capital. In specifics, the DICT wants average broadband speeds increased to 25 percent, plus 35 percent capital. The previous criteria selection values for internet and capital had been 20 and 40 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, most of the other qualifications being asked for are unchanged. Again, Telco 3 should have been providing its services for at least a decade, be able to cover at least 40 percent of the national population, no pending government liabilities, a minimum of P10 billion in paid-up capital, and most importantly not be connected in any way to the twin towers of PLDT or Globe Telecom. A selected candidate company to be the Philippines’ third telco will then be provided assigned radio frequencies for its use by the NTC.
Once a telco choice has been finalized by President Rodrigo Duterte by September 2018, the new service must then post a performance security amounting to 10 percent of its capital, in favor of the NTC. Afterwards they will be mandated to make quarterly reports to the commission on their operational statistics: service rollout and spectrum, subscriber counts, list of cellular towers, information and location of their communications infrastructures. Should they fail to maintain these obligations, their performance security will be forfeited and their assigned frequencies taken back by the NTC.
The list of possible candidates for the third telco include, from the Philippines: PT&T, Converge, Now, Easy Call, and Trans-pacific Broadband; from the international market come China Telecom, South Korea’s KT Corp and LG U+, Vietnam’s Viettel, and Norway’s Telenor.
Image courtesy of Rappler