Filipino telecoms operator Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel), owned by local conglomerate JG Summit Inc, has asked telecoms watchdog the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to consider its application for additional wireless broadband frequencies, which it says are key to the success of its plans for developing WiMAX services. Digitel fears its application will be slowed down by the recent appointment of a new commissioner. Company vice president William Pamintuan said ‘For now, [the application] is still pending with the NTC and we expect that it won’t be acted upon anytime soon because of the transition.’ Digitel is trying to secure an additional 15MHz of frequency in the 2.5GHz-2.7GHz band. Pamintuan said that although Digitel had been awarded 15MHz of spectrum in January 2006, this was not enough to mount a service capable of catering to growing demand for wireless broadband services.
The Digitel official noted that his firm is not the only one looking for extra frequencies. Smart Broadband, a unit of PLDT-backed cellco Smart Communications, is the only telco without an allocation in the 2.5GHz-2.7GHz range. It applied for 30MHz of frequency back in 2006 but is still waiting on its application. In addition, Globe Telecom’s 100%-owned Innove Communications unit was allocated 15MHz of spectrum for WiMAX in October 2005; Altimax Broadcasting, in which Bethlehem Holdings Inc has bought a stake, has 30MHz; Liberty Telecommunications Holdings has 40MHz in the same bandwidth; and e-telco was allocated a 15MHz tranche in January 2007. Meanwhile, Bayan Telecommunications (Bayan) has complained that its application for additional wireless broadband frequencies has remained at the ‘pending’ stage for two years now. It currently holds just 5MHz of spectrum that can be used for broadband and feels it is not being dealt an even hand.