Mislatel system seen in place by ’20
Consumers seeking to avail themselves of the services of the country’s third mobile player may have to wait until the end of 2020, according to a rollout plan submitted by Mislatel Consortium to senators last week.
The plan, also distributed to reporters, indicated that the official commercial launch of its network would happen 20 months after it is granted the necessary license, known as a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
Mislatel, which is backed by businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and state-owned China Telecom, is undergoing a postqualification process that should be concluded by next month under the bidding rules.
It needs to comply with all requirements, including having a telco franchise, the validity of which is now being questioned by some lawmakers.
Should Mislatel be awarded its CPCN and a suite radio frequencies by the first quarter of 2019, the commercial launch of its network would happen by the fourth quarter of 2020, based on the timing indicated in its rollout plan.
For the first 12 months, the consortium will build and test its network while the precommercial trail will start by the 14th month.
Even at this early stage, issues have been raised by industry observers as to how Mislatel could meet its rollout targets.
Mislatel, which would invest P257 billion through the five-year commitment period, promised to cover 37 percent of the population in the first year, going up to 84 percent by year five.
Its promised minimum average internet speed was at
27 megabits per second in the first year.
For the remainder, the speed will go up to 55 Mbps, which is at par with South Korea or Singapore, according to the Speedtest Global Index.
If it repeatedly breaches its commitments, it would forfeit
its frequencies and performance bond, initially set at P25.7 billion.
A telco industry source said there was a risk that Mislatel would start its actual rollout beyond 2020, citing the lack of contracts for crucial areas such as equipment supply and submarine cables as of Jan. 25 this year.
Another observer, however, said the timing would depend on the speed at which China Telecom can deploy its network.
Mislatel was declared the country’s third telco player by the NTC after two rivals were disqualified in November last year.
The bidding exercise led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology was part of the administration’s goal to break the PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom duopoly and improve the quality of telco services in the country.
Under the rollout plan, Mislatel will cover Metro Manila, part of Central and Southern Luzon as well as the Ilocos region by the first year.
By the second year, coverage will reach Cebu City and Davao. Between the fourth and fifth years, Mislatel will build 8,000 radio stations to cover 145 cities and 20,000 barangays.
Mislatel also plans to deploy fiber lines in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.
Outside of Metro Manila, Davao and Cebu, the priority cities to be covered are Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Bacolod, Iloilo, Angeles, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Baguio, Iligan, Butuan, Cotabato, Lucena, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Olongapo, Ormoc, Naga, Dagupan and Santiago.