Five firms buy bid documents to become 3rd major telco player

Five local companies have bought bidding documents to become the new major player in the local telecommunications industry after the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) opened the selection process on Monday, October 8.

DICT acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

Among the companies that expressed their interest to bid are a company headed by former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, which partnered with TierOne Communications Inc., Udenna Corporation of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, Now Corporation of businessman Mel Velarde, Norwegian telecom operator Telenor and another firm, which refused to be identified.

The companies bought bidding documents worth P1 million at the office of the National Telecommunications Commission in Quezon City.

“May isa or dalawa ang inaasahan pa namin na sasali within this week ay magbabayad sila (We are expecting one or two companies that have expressed interest to buy bidding documents within this week),” DICT acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

Participants must also post a P700-million participation security to qualify in the bidding process to ensure that they have the capability to compete with existing players PLDT and Globe Telecom, Rio said.

Interested bidders may submit their bidding documents until November 7. The bidding for the third telco player will be held on the same date based on the timeline set by the DICT.

However, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Miguel Camus said in a tweet that Now Corporation filed a case against the NTC to question “the P700-million participation security, multi-billion peso performance security, and P10-million non-refundable appeal fee.”

Now Corporation, owned by businessman Mel Velarde, went to court on Monday, Oct. 8, — the same day that it bought bid documents from the NTC, according to Camus.

The new major telco player is expected to be identified by December.

“By December, the frequencies, permits and licenses will be awarded for them to operate and rollout their infrastructure,” Rio said.

He said an improvement in communication services is expected by the first half of next year as the new telco player starts to gain subscribers.

“The third telco will enter in the market with no subscribers. The only way they can get subscribers from Globe and Smart is to offer quality services at an affordable cost,” Rio said.

The third telco player will be selected based on its highest committed level of service or its financial and technical capability to efficiently deliver communication services to the public, based on a memorandum circular released by the DICT last September 21.

Points will be given through the following criteria: national population coverage, capital and operational expenditures and minimum average broadband speed.

Other companies that have earlier expressed interest to join the bidding are the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Co., Converge ICT Solutions, TransPacific Broadband Group International Inc. and Easy Call Communications Philippines.

Some of the foreign investors that have expressed interest in the project include China Telecom, Surya Telecom of India, LG Uplus Corp. of South Korea, KDDI Corp. of Japan and Viettel Group of Vietnam. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)

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