The Philippines gets a third telco player – finally?

After a delay of eight months, the Philippines has announced the winner of a third telecom licence. But legal proceedings could delay matters further.

Mislatel, the consortium backed by China Telecommunications and by the Philippines’s Udenna Corporation and its logistics arm Chelsea Logistics Holdings, has won the right to become the Philippines third telecom player, after two other bids were disqualified.

After 10 parties bought the necessary bid papers, three formal bids were received by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

But bids from Sear Telecom and Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp (PT&T) were subsequently yanked after the November 6 deadline. The reasons reportedly given for this by Ellen Blanca Lopez, who heads the NTC's legal branch, were that the former had failed to pay a $13,000 security fee and that the latter had failed to produce a "certificate of technical capability" from the other countries where it operates.

Both the losing bids have indicated that they will appeal the disqualification, according to CNN Philippines.

Incumbent telcos Globe Telecom and PLTD saw their share prices fall as news of the winning bid was announced. At the end of 2017, Globe held a 52% share of the Philippines market and PDLT 48% with 62 million and 57 million fixed and mobile subscribers each, according to data from GSMA Intelligence, a leading telecom research firm.

LOSING PATIENCE

Draft terms of reference for the bidding process were unveiled in February but were subject to constant revisions in the following months, which delayed the process.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself grew impatient with the constant delays, warning the DICT and NTC that he would take the decision out of their hands and make the decision himself.

Following Duterte’s intervention, the terms of reference were finally agreed on September 25, with a November 5 deadline for final submissions.

Initial reports stated that telcos from Japan, Korea, China, Norway, Vietnam and Singapore were keen to enter joint ventures with local partners, one of the restrictions placed upon bidders.

After 10 bid packs, costing $18,000 each, were purchased by interested parties, it was expected that seven would submit formal bids, according to Eliseo Rio, acting secretary of the DICT.

With PT&T and Sear Telecom’s disqualification, Mislatel’s bid remains the only acceptable option for now. But appeals still pending there is no guarantee that this is the last we will hear of this drawn-out saga.  

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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