Telecommunications giant PLDT Inc. has agreed to surrender one of its frequencies at no cost to the government for allocation to a potential third major player in the local telecommunications industry.
The decision by the telco firm comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said the frequencies for the entry of a new major telco player should be awarded for free.
“After talking with MVP (Manuel V. Pangilinan) yesterday, PLDT will return the CURE frequencies at absolutely no cost, that can now be awarded to the New Major Telco Player (NMTP), as per instruction of PRRD,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) officer in charge Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a social media post Wednesday.
PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan earlier said the third major telco player should pay at least PHP3 billion for the 3G frequency turned over by its unit Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise (CURE) to the government.
PLDT surrendered the 3G frequency of CURE to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in 2012 as one of the conditions set by the government for its acquisition of Sun Cellular from the Gokongwei Group.
The NTC earlier planned to hold an auction for the 3G license of CURE but was unable to bid it out due to issues in determining the cost recovery amount.
The 3G frequency surrendered by CURE would be part of the spectrum to be assigned to a new telco player.
In a Palace press briefing Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte wanted to stick with the deadline of the entry of a new telco player by March as he rejected the request of the DICT for an extension to at least May, due to lack of sufficient time to file bidding documents for prospective third telco players.
Roque noted that the President was displeased with the fact that the frequencies surrendered by CURE were needed to be bought back by the government in order to be allocated to a third major telco player.
The department released a memorandum stipulating that any prospective third telco player should have a significant financial investment for five years, a valid congressional franchise, must not be a subsidiary affiliate, or has any corporate or financial interest with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom and has a written and binding commitment from a foreign venture company.
A prospective third telco player needs to invest around PHP300 billion to PHP400 billion over the next five years according to the DICT.