700 MHz spectrum: PLDT and Globe Telecom up in arms against San Miguel

Mobile Internet
PLDT and Globe Telecom have urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to release the entire 700 MHz spectrum controlled by rival San Miguel Corporation through a bidding process.

Both PLDT and Globe Telecom have described as ‘anti-competition’ San Miguel’s hold over the entire 700 MHz spectrum. “The LTE band should be equitably distributed in a transparent manner among existing operators and new entrants in the Philippines,” said PLDT and Globe Telecom.

“What is anti-competitive is the present situation where San Miguel controls the entire 700 MHz band, as well as substantial unutilized chunks of radio spectrum in other frequency bands through various corporations,” said PLDT and Smart Communications Head of Public Affairs Ramon Isberto in a letter.

Incidentally, the telecom regulator did not take any action on the controversial 700 MHz spectrum for LTE based wireless and fixed broadband network in the past 10 years.

The amount of spectrum assigned to telecoms impacts the cost the build capacity, overall network performance, ability to offer new multimedia services and general customer experience of wireless services.

Globe Telecom General Legal Counsel Froilan Castelo said: “700 MHz should be reallocated for the benefit of the country and the industry. We have been calling on the NTC to do this since 2005 and we will continue to exert all effort to get that reallocated.”

Recently, Philippines government appointed former Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan as the first chair of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) for ensuring fair competition in the business sector, and preventing anti-competitive agreements, mergers or acquisitions that substantially restrict competition, and foster abuse of dominant position.

Balisacan said PCC will focus on the telecom industry, which should include a study of the 700 MHz issue and how San Miguel maintained control of the scarce frequency despite calls for a public bidding.

The European Commission has finalized a proposal in February, to coordinate the use of the 700 MHz band across the European Union to make it available to mobile operators.