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Telecom battle building up

The battle over the powerful wireless bandwidth held by San Miguel Corp. heats up, as Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. threatened to file a case against  an official of the  National Telecommunications Commission for his alleged statements on the difficulty of reallocating the frequencies to other companies.

Both PLDT and Globe Telecom Inc. want to have a share in the 700-megahertz frequency band assigned to San Miguel, which plans to use the powerful resource in rolling out  its mobile broadband service in partnership with Australia’s Telstra Corp. 

PLDT said it might sue  NTC director Edgardo Cabarios for alleged misleading statements about the controversial 700-megahertz frequency band.  

“It is unfortunate that NTC Director Cabarios made misleading unofficial and personal statements regarding the true state of the 700 MHz radio frequency band in the country and the procedure involved in the repurposing of the use of radio frequencies under NTC rules and regulations particularly as a result of technological advancements and the consequent emerging global regulatory and commercial practices,” PLDT head of regulatory affairs and policy Ray Espinosa said.

Globe also asked NTC to correct the statement that it could no longer apply for the 700-MHz frequency band, which is seen as the next important resource in mobile broadband service.

Cabarios earlier told reporters that reallocation of 700 MHz frequency was “not easy” because “reallocation [of frequency] is a quasi-judicial process” and “there must be a reason for the recall.”

Cabarios said the government would only recall the frequency if it was unused and the user did not pay the proper spectrum users fee.  

Espinosa said Cabarrios created the misperception that existing mobile telecommunication operators could no longer apply for, and be given equitable allocation of, additional and new radio frequencies even when needed by the demands of the public service.

“For these reasons, we have referred the statements of director Cabarios to our legal counsel for appropriate judicial and administrative actions,” Espinosa said.

Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said the NTC should also correct its statement.  “We continue to campaign and lobby for the NTC to harmonize 700 Mhz. The spectrum cannot be held by only one entity,” he said.

Castelo said it was imperative for NTC to ensure that the 700 MHz band was  made open to other telco players. 

“Reassignment of the frequency is also in line with global practice of allocating it to several telco players. The whole range of 700 band simply cannot be given to only one entity,” Castelo said.

Cabarios said he was just replying to the media’s questions and his answers were based on facts.  “I am speaking on behalf of the commission,” he said.

San Miguel president Ramon Ang earlier turned down the request of PLDT and Globe and advised the incumbent players to  improve and fine-tune their networks.

San Miguel’s wi-Tribe Telecoms holds 80 megahertz of spectrum in the 700 Mhz band while Hi-Frequency Telecommunications Inc. holds 10 Mhz.

Besides the 700 Mhz, the San Miguel Group owns spectrum under the 900 Mhz, 800 Mhz and 1,800 Mhz. 

PLDT Group holds frequency in the 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz and 2,100 MHz bands while Globe owns frequency in the 900 Mhz, 1,800 Mhz and 2,100 Mhz bands.

Topics: Telecom battle , PLDT , San Miguel Corp. , Globe , Telstra Corp. , NTC
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