August 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm
Darwin G. Amojelar
A telecom company owned by the Velarde family said Wednesday it is seriously looking at challenging the duopoly of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom Inc. as it asked the Duterte administration to assign to them mobile frequencies.
“We received the CMTS [cellular mobile telephone service] license as early as 2006, but they never gave us mobile cellular frequencies. The politically favored telcos accumulated frequencies. Under the Duterte administration, we have a chance to get the frequencies,” Mel Velarde, president of Now Telecom Inc., formerly Next Mobile Inc., told reporters.
“We wrote them [National Telecommunications Commission] last July, requesting for issuance of mobile cellular frequency, whatever is available,” he said.
Velarde said his company could roll out mobile telephone service in a year or once the NTC granted its request for frequencies.
“Let’s say we get frequencies now, we can activate in a year’s time at first around 300 cell sites,” Velarde said. He said a cell site would cost about $150,000.
Velarde said Now Telecom would concentrate on quality mobile data service. “People are willing to pay for quality data. I think there is room for premium mobile cellular player in the country,” he said.
Velarde said the company was open to foreign partnership for its mobile telephone foray by next year. “There is a room for a third player or more due to high demand,” he said.
Velarde said Now Telecom was interested in the 700-megahertz bandwidth surrendered by PLDT and Globe and 3G frequency and other mobile frequencies.
He said Now Telecom was serious in becoming the third player in the telecom industry.
“We are banking to be the third player, but we are small now. Of course dreaming is free. ABS-CBN Convergence and Now Telecom are the two entities with CMTS license,” Velarde said.
San Miguel Corp. earlier sold its telecom assets for P70 billion to PLDT and Globe after the conglomerate abandoned its $1-billion mobile phone joint venture with Australia’s Telstra Corp.
Its parent firm, Now Corp., launched broadband services with guaranteed connections of up to 700 megabytes per seconds, targeting enterprises.
“We are providing guaranteed service. Our performance is distinctly and comparatively excellent as of today in the telco and broadband market,” Velarde said.
He said Now Corp was in talks with Telstra Corp. and other foreign submarine cable providers to increase its broadband bandwidth.
“We have the license to buy direct from submarine cable providers,” Velarde said.