No more SMS frequency for 3rd telco player
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seeking a third telco player that could match or offer better services than PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.
But even at this early stage, Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the DICT acknowledged that there were limitations on the services a new telco challenger could provide, including text messaging.
Rio said there were no more 2G frequencies, which support text messaging, for the government to award to a third player. These are all controlled by PLDT and Globe, the country’s two major telcos that provide fixed-line and mobile services to about 100 million Filipinos.
“The third player will not use SMS (short messaging service) facilities,” Rio told reporters during a press conference to announce the government’s plans for a common tower policy on Friday.
He noted, however, that the DICT had enough 3G and 4G frequencies, which would allow a new player to provide a slew of internet applications where demand is surging.
“I don’t think it will be a hindrance for a third player even if they don’t get these [2G frequencies],” he said, noting that the government has yet to come up with a “more equitable” policy on reallocating frequencies already assigned to PLDT and Globe.
About half of Filipinos still rely on text messaging, either because they have yet to transition to a smartphone or because their area has poor mobile internet coverage.
SMS revenues, which have declined significantly as more consumers shifted to internet services, still accounted for P19 billion, or 30 percent, of PLDT’s nine-month 2017 mobile service income. Globe’s SMS revenues contributed P17.4 billion, about 24 percent, during the same period.
Rio also said the DICT was studying a policy for the incumbents to “share” their frequencies, especially in areas they were not currently serving.
“If a telco would need some frequencies in a particular area, and [telco operators] have the frequencies but they are not using it in that area and they have no plans of using it in the future, then it can be re-farmed for the duration they are not using it,” Rio said.
Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos, an independent researcher and lead convenor of advocacy group Better Broadband Alliance, supported recent moves by the administration to increase competition.
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