The Philippine competition regulator needs time to study how much spectrum is required to support a third mobile player in the country.

The Philippine Competition Commission’s Mergers and Acquisition Office issued a report warning that the acquisition of San Miguel Corp’s telecoms assets by PLDT and Globe Telecom would “leave a limited amount of spectrum to a potential third player”, according to InterAksyon.

The report went on to say that “the amount of available spectrum post-transaction may not be sufficient for a new player to exert competitive pressure on PLDT and Globe”.

The agency said it needs time to conduct research and speak with experts about the impact of the PHP69 billion ($1.5 billion) acquisition by the two operators, which control 99 per cent of the country’s mobile connections.

PCC commissioner Stella Quimbo said this is why it wants to conduct a comprehensive review, InterAksyon reported. Two weeks ago the regulator asked a court of appeals to lift an order stopping its review of the deal, which includes most of the spectrum in the highly efficient 700MHz band.

The PCC late last month hit a stumbling block in its attempt to halt the country’s two dominant operators’ controversial joint acquisition, when an appeals court granted PLDT’s request to temporarily stop it from conducting further proceedings for its pre-acquisition investigation.

PCC issued a statement in late August warning that the deal is “likely” to negatively impact competition. Both PLDT and Globe filed for temporary restraining orders in July, asking for a halt of the review, with both arguing the “transaction is already deemed approved”.