The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) released draft criteria for selecting the country’s third telecoms operator and will hold a public consultation on the proposed rules in early March.

Suggested terms require the new player to have a net worth of at least PHP10 billion ($191 million), or have the capacity to raise equity from consortium members to the value, and have a congressional franchise – or if a consortium, Filipinos must hold at least 60 per cent interest in the group with at least one of the members holding such a franchise. The company, or at least one of the members of a consortium, should have the “proven technical capability” to provide telecoms services and should not have any “bidder’s liabilities”.

The new company also cannot have a relationship with any telecoms group with a mobile and broadband wireless market share of at least 40 per cent. The new player needs to submit a network rollout plan within 15 days of being awarded a licence, start commercial operations within 12 months and cover at least 80 per cent of provincial capital cities and towns, and 80 per cent of chartered cities, within five years.

DICT will present the draft criteria to stakeholders on 27 February and will hold a pubic hearing on the proposed rules and regulations on 6 March. It aims to finalise the terms by end-March and hold an auction on 18 May, BusinessWorld reported.

Breaking the grip
Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, the mobile unit of PLDT, hold a duopoly in the country’s mobile industry, with each having a near 50 per cent market share at end-December 2017.

The Philippines government identified China Telecom as the company to become the third operator in the country a matter of weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte invited China to invest in the country’s telecoms sector. State-run National Transmission Corp (TransCo) and Philippine Telegraph & Telephone (PT&T) have expressed interested in partnering with China Telecom to establish a new operator.

In October 2016 Duterte warned the county’s two dominant mobile operators he would open the market to Chinese competition if they failed to improve their poor service.