The Mislatel Consortium, named the third major operator in the Philippines in November 2018, aims to launch commercial service in late 2020 and cover 17 major cities after two years, BusinessWorld reported.

Based on its rollout plan submitted to a Senate committee, within a year of securing the required approvals the group plans to start pre-commercial trials, which the newspaper said are scheduled to run for six months. Depending on when it receives the approvals, it could start commercial service in November 2020.

It is targeting 37 per cent population coverage after its first year in operation and 84 per cent coverage after five years, when it aims to have 8,000 base stations nationwide.

The validity of Mislatel’s franchise, however, was questioned during a Senate hearing last week, with allegations certain conditions were not met. These included launching within a year of the franchise being granted or operating continuously for three years.

The consortium comprises Mindanao Islamic Telephone (Mislatel), China Telecom, Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics Holdings. Mislatel was granted a telecoms franchise in 1998.

In a statement, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it trusts Congress to decide on the validity of Mislatel’s franchise: “We are confident that our representatives from both Houses would keep the public interest in mind in resolving the matter.”

Making progress
Meanwhile, the department said the consortium is pushing ahead to complete its post-qualification requirements, noting it already secured Philippine Competition Commission approval of its bidding agreement implementation and Securities and Exchange Commission clearance for the terms of the agreement, which are compliant with foreign equity ownership rules.

Mislatel Consortium has until 17 February 2019 to submit its final business and rollout plans to the National Telecommunications Commission, which then has 15 days to evaluate the documents.

The consortium then has to provide a PHP25 billion ($476 million) performance bond.