Five companies reportedly have expressed interest in participating in an auction for a third spectrum licence in the Philippines, a market currently dominated by PLDT’s Smart and Globe Telecom.
National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said five companies – Converge ICT and Now Corp (which were revealed previously by the regulator) as well as three unnamed firms – are interested in becoming the country’s third mobile operator, according to Malaya Business Insight.
The country’s telecoms regulator said last month it aims to sell unused and unassigned spectrum by the middle of next year in an auction open only to new mobile players.
The NTC said the available spectrum, reportedly 85MHz, will be sold in one block, but the regulator needs to discuss the terms of the auction with the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
The frequencies will include 3G airwaves forfeited by PLDT after acquiring Digital Telecommunications in 2011, as well as spectrum in the 700, 2,500 and 3,500MHz bands returned by PLDT and Globe as a condition for acquiring San Miguel Corp’s telecoms assets in May.
Now Corp, which provides internet and cable services to businesses in the Manila area and obtained a mobile services licence in 2006, plans to team up with a foreign partner, the newspaper reported.
Foreign ownership is limited to 40 per cent in the Philippines.
Converge ICT is a local ISP serving the residential and enterprise markets.
NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios has said a third player needs to invest at least PHP30 billion ($600 million) to build a nationwide network and have more than 2,000 base stations. Smart has more than 12,000, while Globe has about 7,000.