The Philippine’s Court of Appeals has affirmed the joint use of 1.8GHz spectrum by Globe Telecom and Bayan Telecommunications, likely paving way for the long-awaited merger of the two firms to move ahead.
The decision, which was made on 21 October, is a big victory for Globe, which first moved to acquire BayanTel in 2012.
Smart, the country’s number 1 mobile operator, had filed a motion seeking to nullify NTC’s (National Telecommunications Commission) September 2012 approval of the collaborative use of Bayantel’s frequencies. Smart argued that the merger would violate the telecoms law as it would give Globe 95MHz of 4G spectrum. Globe currently has 45MHz and PLDT’s Smart claims it has just 35MHz of 4G-suitable frequency.
The appeals court rejected Smart’s petition saying it was without merit. In upholding NTC’s earlier decision to approve the spectrum co-use, the court said that the NTC “cannot be said that it acted with grave abuse of discretion”.
“Smart has the burden of proof to show the joint use of frequencies is enjoined by law or against national interest. In this Smart has miserably failed,” the court said.
Smart then filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court dismissed without the opportunity to appeal.
In a separate case, the court on 15 October issued a 60-day temporary restraining order on the NTC’s takeover proceedings. Smart had said the merger would “defeat competition”. Globe has said the takeover will allow it to “put a far third-place player back on its feet.”
After the Court of Appeals’ most recent decision, Globe and Bayantel requested that the NTC be allowed to resume the merger hearings.
Smart has a 60 per cent market share based on mobile connections and Globe has a 39 per cent share, according to GSMA Intelligence.