The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it expects Mislatel Consortium to commence operations after the midterm elections, as both the House of Representatives and Senate still need to reconcile provisions of their respective versions of the resolution approving its franchise.
DICT acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the agency must wait for Congress to officially approve Mislatel’s franchise before it can give out the necessary radio frequencies, and before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can issue it a license to operate as a telco.
“We are waiting for the approval of bicam on the resolution of transfer of Mislatel’s shares. The resolution of Congress has slightly different wordings than the resolution of the Senate. So Congress has to reconcile all of this. That is what we are waiting,” said Rio in a press briefing Monday, February 18, as the 90-day post qualification phase Mislatel needs to undergo for it to be issued its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) lapsed on February 17.
“The calendar of the Congress says that the earlier we can get this would be after the elections — May and June before Congress really dissolves itself,” he added.
Mislatel was awarded the third telco slot by the NTC following a bidding conducted in November last year.
It was given 90 days after being named winning bidder to submit related documents including the congressional approval of its franchise; registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission; approval of the Philippine Competition Commission of its bidding agreement implementation; posting of the performance security bond, and its rollout plan for the entire commitment period for the issuance of its CPCN.
“Mislatel submitted all requirements they have control with. But there are some requirements that are needed to be done after they get their franchise. So they cannot operate as a telco as of now. We could not really give them those frequencies unless we get Congress approval,” Rio said.
Mislatel has committed to provide Internet speeds of 55 megabytes per second (Mbps) covering 84 percent of the population, with capital expenditures of around P250 billion over a five-year period.
Consortium members Udenna Corp., its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and state-owned China Telecommunications earlier agreed to increase their shareholdings in Mislatel to acquire majority and controlling interest in the company.
The House of Representatives approved the transfer of Mislatel’s shares to the consortium on December 11, 2018 while the Senate approved its resolution on February 6, 2019.
Republic Act 8627 granted Mislatel the franchise to maintain and operate a wireless telecommunications system in the country, but the controlling interest in the company may not be transferred to any person, company, or entity without prior approval of Congress. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)