PLDT in talks with NTC over divestment of 3G frequencies

18 Oct 2011

Filipino telecoms giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is reportedly in discussions with regulators regarding the potential divestment of excess frequencies, according to the Manila Times. The local press source claims that the telco had confirmed the talks in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, with PLDT reportedly discussing the possible return of third-generation spectrum held by its subsidiary Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE). The fixed line incumbent has claimed that the talks with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) were in accordance with a divestment plan that may be agreed between PLDT and the regulator, with the telco noting: ‘PLDT is cognizant though of the concerns raised by the government and certain oppositors regarding the PLDT Group’s ownership of 3G frequency, and would like to assure all parties that [it] is not PLDT’s intention to accumulate the said frequency.’

Currently, the report claims, the PLDT group has a combined 25MHz of 3G frequency, of which 15MHz is owned by Smart Communications and the remaining 10MHz by CURE. The Manila Times cites an unnamed source as having claimed that PLDT is more likely to hand back CURE’s third-generation spectrum allocation due to it being in the lower frequency band; the unit’s uplink bandwidth is in the 1955MHz-1965MHz range while it downlink frequency is in the 2145MHz-2155MHz range, while Smart’s spectrum is in the 1920MHz-1935MHz/2110MHz-2125MHz range, giving the latter less interference.

It is also thought that the decision to hand back 3G spectrum to the government could help clear the way for the NTC’s approval of PLDT’s acquisition of Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel), which also holds 10MHz of 3G frequency in the 1925MHz-1945MHz and the 2125MHz-2135MHz ranges. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in March 2011 PLDT announced it has struck a deal to buy a majority 51.55% equity stake in the country’s number three mobile network operator in a PHP69.2 billion (USD1.59 billion) share swap, but regulatory approval for the deal has yet to be forthcoming. A Philippines’ Senate committee in August 2011 did, however, approve PLDT’s acquisition proposal, adjudging the deal to be ‘consistent with its legislative franchise and in the interest of the public’

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