PT&T asks Makati RTC to allow it to join 3rd telco race
Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T), a fixed broadband service provider, filed on Tuesday a legal case challenging the selection rules of the National Telecommunications Commission in a last-minute effort to be allowed to join the government’s third telco initiative.
In its Petition for Declaratory Relief, filed at the Makati City Regional Trial Court, PT&T is challenging the NTC definition of what it means to be a telco operator on a national scale, claiming the NTC’s interpretation is “discriminatory” to local companies.
The issue relates to the technical requirement of the NTC that a qualified bidder must have at least 10 years of experience operating a telco service on a national scale.
PT&T, which has been in the industry for over half a century, said the NTC has so far withheld its certification that it has met the technical requirement.
Without the requirement, PT&T would be automatically disqualified in the bidding, whose deadline is on Nov. 7 this year.
“We believe that the NTC’s refusal to issue the said certification is without basis since it is premised on a restrictive interpretation of the term “national scale” as it heavily favors foreign telecommunications companies who want to participate in the third telco bidding,” James Velasquez, PT&T president and CEO, said.
In a press conference, PT&T officials explained that they appeared to stumble in the technical requirement when the NTC issued clarificatory bulletins last month. These, there said, were issued after the firm bought its bid documents.
Other local bidders, in particular those with large foreign partners that meet the technical requirement, have not raised any issue with the rules.
For the bidding, Velasquez noted that PT&T intended to bid “on our own” and that a foreign partner would come later.
The NTC required bidders to have a national presence to prove that they could roll out a country-wide mobile service and compete with incumbents PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.
In its rules, however, it noted that a foreign telco could still meet the requirement even if it had regional operations in its home country. The designation of having national operations depends on the telecommunications authority of a given country, the NTC had said.
On Tuesday, PT&T said it would continue to support NTC’s selection process and that it was not trying to stop the bid.
Velasqeuz said they only wanted to be given the opportunity to submit an offer. He said the filing before the Makati Court was aimed at compelling the NTC to accept its offer until a decision on the definition of a national telco can be resolved.
Velasquez further noted that PT&T would continue its expansion plans even if it lost or was not allowed to submit an offer. Renato B. Garcia, PT&T director and executive vice president, said the company had existing fiber optic infrastructure that counted as an advantage in the third telco exercise.
“We are not starting from the baseline,” Garcia said, adding that their network would help PT&T “achieve the timelines that government wanted to accomplish.”
A total of 10 companies had acquired bid documents as of Oct. 31 this year.
These were foreign groups Norway’s Telenor, China Telecom, Austria’s Mobiltel Holding GMBH, as well as Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Telecommunications Technology Solutions Inc., Streamtech Systems Technologies, Udenna Corp., LCS-TierOne, NOW Telecom and AMA Telecommunication Corp.
Last week, it was announced that Telecommunications Technology will partner with KT while Streamtech, owned by the family of businessman and former Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., said it would not join the third telco race. /atm
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