3rd telco urged to partner with rivals
The head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) wants the prospective third telco to work with existing broadband operators and even vanquished rivals following a bruising selection process that is now morphing into a legal battle.
Eliseo Rio Jr., acting secretary of the DICT, issued a statement through his Facebook page that appeared to suggest a “win-win” solution between provisional winner Mislatel Consortium and disqualified bidders that have filed or are set to file lawsuits.
In his social media post, Rio urged Mislatel, a venture between Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and China Telecom, to use “all existing facilities” of other players such as Converge ICT Solutions and even those of disqualified bidders Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T), backed by businessman Salvador Zamora II, and Sear Consortium, whose investors include Ilocos politician Luis “Chavit” Singson.
On Nov. 16, PT&T announced that it filed a case before the Supreme Court to overturn its disqualification while Sear Consortium said it would pursue a case against Mislatel’s telco franchise holder, known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co., for breach of contract.
Rio later told the Inquirer in an interview that he hoped that all the operators could work out a mutually beneficial business arrangement.
“I think they can all work together and be winners,” Rio said. He cited the existing cable facilities of Converge and PT&T as well as Sear’s plan to use a broadband satellite to provide services across the country.
Based on its proposal throughout the government’s five-year commitment period, Mislatel offered to spend P258 billion to build a telco network, cover 84 percent of the country’s population and bring up the minimum average internet speed to 27 Megabits per second on its first year, going up to 55 Mbps in the succeeding years.
“Mislatel made a commitment to greatly improve our telecommunication industry that can bring us at par with Singapore,” Rio said, adding that the third telco would be facing tough penalties such as the forfeiture of its multibillion-peso performance bond and return of awarded radio frequencies if it repeatedly breaches its commitments.
The DICT head made the statement on the eve of the potential confirmation of Mislatel as the new major player that will compete with incumbents PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, whose services were earlier criticized by President Duterte. With no appeals left to review, the NTC en banc is free to issue an order confirming Mislatel as the third telco. It will then be subjected to a maximum 90-day post-qualification review.
As of last week, both Sear and PT&T said they would take their grievances to the courts.
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