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MVP: P3B a ‘good price’ for CURE frequency

PLDT, Inc. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said P3 billion is a “good price” for possible compensation by a future player for the frequency surrendered by the telco as part of the government approval of its merger with Digitel Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (Digitel).

“I don’t know how much it would cost. It’s not really up to us, it’s with the NTC [National Telecommunications Commission]. It’s a good price, but it’s not up to us,’ Mr. Pangilinan told reporters on the sidelines of a Voyager Innovations, Inc. event on Jan. 18. 

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgar Cabarios has said the third telecommunications player will have to compensate PLDT about P3 billion if they are to get the 3G (third generation) frequency returned by PLDT, then owned by its unit Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises (CURE), to the government as part of the approval of the merger with then-Gokongwei-owned Digitel.

NTC in 2011 ordered the divestment of 10 MHz of the 2100 MHz band, used for 3G, a condition for the approval of the deal with Digitel.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba at that time said the government would bid out the surrendered frequency, with PLDT given monetary compensation. PLDT would not be allowed to participate in the bidding, which has not been conducted until now.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is preparing the guidelines for the specifics of the frequencies to be given to the telco which will win in the selection process.

The DICT is set to reveal on Jan. 24 its specific guidelines for the selection of a third telco player.

DICT Officer-in-Charge Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the compensation is still needed, and the third player, if interested in acquiring the 3G frequency, will have to assume the responsibility of compensation.

“Acquiring the frequency from CURE must be assumed by those who would get the frequency,” Mr. Rio said in a phone interview.

Mr. Rio said on Friday, Jan. 19 that the remaining frequencies, which are estimated by the Philippine Competition Commission at only around 12% of the entire frequencies, are “enough” for the third player to compete with PLDT and Globe Telecom, Inc.

 The DICT however, is looking at a “more equitable” allocation of frequencies in the long term, and this would possibly include reallocation or re-farming of frequencies.

However, Mr. Rio admitted this would take a long process and cannot immediately be carried out.

PLDT and Globe have earlier said they are wary of the said plan of the government.

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