Thursday, November 15, 2018
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3rd telco selection delayed anew

Terms of reference still not approved by the oversight committee in Friday meeting

The Duterte administration’s third telco initiative has stalled as the oversight committee members crafting the draft rules for the selection process appear unable to overcome big differences on how it should be implemented.

Eliseo Rio Jr., acting secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), said the terms of reference (TOR), delayed for months now, were not approved during their meeting on Friday.

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“It’s disappointing,” said Rio, who declined to comment further.

In the days leading to Friday’s meeting, Rio expressed optimism they could soon publish the terms of reference, which would outline how the government would award a coveted set of 3G, 4G and potential 5G radio frequencies.

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These will be used by a new contender to provide mobile services like calls, text messaging and internet browsing.

The selection of a third telco is linked to President Duterte’s earlier threat to break the PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom duopoly, which in recent months have announced their commitment to improve their mobile and fixed-line networks.

Rio, a former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission under whose watch the operator of Sun Cellular first broke the PLDT-Globe duopoly, declined to say why the TOR was not approved, nor what were the next steps in the process.

Industry insiders who have been closely monitoring the process regarded the lack of information as ominous signs in the third telco selection process.

These sources said the delays started when Mr. Duterte created an oversight committee in April. This is composed of representatives from the DICT, Department of Finance, Office of the Executive Secretary and National Security Adviser.

The crafting of the rules was previously led by the DICT and NTC.

Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Galla, in a Facebook post, described the third telco selection process as “dead.” Sought for comment, he said some of the conditions being pushed by certain members of the oversight committee appeared to be designed to hurt Mr. Duterte’s directive for more competition in the market.

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Other sources pointed to the insistence of some members to have an auction of the said spectrum assets, which would make it the first in the Philippines.

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TAGS: dict, Duterte Administration, Eliseo Rio Jr., third telco
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