DICT vows ‘no-holds-barred’ telecom summit, warns spectrum hoarders

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has promised that an upcoming national telecom conference it co-organized will have frank discussions on the problems hobbling the local ICT sector.

DICT secretary Rodolfo Salalima (right) with undersecretary Jorge Sarmiento

DICT secretary Rodolfo Salalima (right) with undersecretary Jorge Sarmiento

At a press briefing meant to drum up awareness for the first Philippine Telecom Summit, which will be held on March 9 to 10 at the PICC, DICT secretary Rodolfo Salalima said participants will be free to discuss the challenges besetting the sector, particularly in three areas of concern: speed, cost, and coverage.

“It will be a no-holds-barred event. Bakbakan ‘to,” said Salalima, but added that the discussions should be level-headed. He said various stakeholders — government agencies and regulators, industry players, experts, and consumers — have been invited to the event.

To make sure that something concrete will come out of the conference, the DICT chief said memorandum of agreements (MOUs) will be signed by various players on their recommendations after the conclusion of the event.

The confab, the first such event to be conducted by the ICT agency, will also tackle other controversial issues such as the proposed National Broadband Network and the efficient use of radio spectrums.

In fact, Salalima said they have published a list of unused and unassigned frequencies to warn concerned entities that it will not tolerate the hoarding of mobile spectrums in the country.

Salalima said a recent audit of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) showed that a number of establishments have not been using or paying the required fees for their frequency spectrums.

“We reiterate that warehousing of spectrums will not be allowed for speculative purposes. Frequencies should only be necessary for their operations. Enough frequencies should be allocated to new players in the telco industry,” Salalima said.

For his part, DICT undersecretary Jorge Sarmiento said there is enough number of unassigned frequencies that may be allocated to a third or fourth player in the local telco industry based on the study of the NTC.

Data from the NTC showed that unused frequencies are held by Sears Telecoms (410 MHz); Teodoro N. Romasanta Inc.(TNRI) and Twilight (700 MHz); RBC, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Uniden Philippines, Liberty Broadcasting Network Inc. (LBNI), Worldwide Comms. Inc., (800 MHz) and Bayantel (2500 MHz); Easy Call Communications Philippines; AZ Comm; Multimedia Telephony, Broadband Everywhere Corp.; and Radio Marine Network, Inc. (3400 MHz); and TN Rosanna and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) (10 Gigahertz).

Furthermore, Sears, MMDA, TNRI, Trilight, RBC, Uniden, LBNI, Worldwide Comms have unpaid spectrum user fees.

Salalima said the NTC has the right to recall frequencies for reassignment to existing telco companies or bid them out to new players.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba has earlier said the agency aims to conduct an auction of unused and unassigned frequencies by the middle of the year as it seeks to open the telco industry to new mobile service providers. He said several telco companies have expressed interest in bidding for the unassigned frequencies. – with reports from PNA

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