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Globe, Smart get NTC nod to use frequencies in 700 MHz spectrum

On the premise of an exponentially better internet service in the country, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has given Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. the permission to co-use certain radio frequencies in the coveted 700 megahertz spectrum previously held by San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

"The NTC has today approved the use by Smart Communications Inc. of certain radio frequencies in the 700 megahertz (MHz), 900MHz, 1800 MHz, 2300 MHz, and 2500 MHz bands," PLDT said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

The approval was signed on and the disclosure was released by the exchange Tuesday morning.

In a separate text message, Globe Telecom Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications Yolanda Crisanto confirmed the NTC approval.

PLDT Inc. – Smart's parent company – and Globe on Monday executed a sale and purchase agreement to buy out SMC from Vega Telecom Inc. for P69.1 billion.

Among the assets both companies gained under the transaction are the "much-needed" radio frequencies such as the 700 MHz which has been cited by PLDT and Globe as key to expanding mobile broadband service in the country.

The two major telcos will also receive supplementary frequencies in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands which PLDT says will result in "faster and improved data services."

The two major telcos will also receive supplementary frequencies in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands which PLDT says will result in "faster and improved data services."

According to the NTC letter of approval on May 27, 2016, Globe will be permitted to use the following frequencies:

  • 703 to 720.5 and 758 to 775.5 MHz
  • 880 to 885 and 925 to 930 MHz
  • 1710 to 1717.5 and 1805 to 1812.5 MHz
  • 2380 to 2395 MHz
  • 2555 to 2595 MHz

Smart will get to use the following:

  • 720.5 to 738 and 775.5 to 793 MHz
  • 885 to 890 and 930 to 935 MHz
  • 1717.5 to 1725 and 1812.5 to 1820 MHz
  • 2365 to 2380 MHz
  • 2629 to 2669 MHz

The regulator noted, however, that the frequencies earlier assigned to Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc. – a subsidiary of Vega Telecom – would also be assigned to Globe and Smart subject to certain conditions:

  • The companies must immediately commence and implement the co-use agreement over the allotted frequencies
  • Provide higher broadband and internet access speeds within a year and the submission of a quarterly progress report
  • Come up with a roll-out plan within 60 days, covering at least 90 percent of the cities and municipalities in three years to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access
  • Payment of the Spectrum User's Fee and other required fees and charges
  • Secure the necessary permits and licenses from the NTC for radio stations owned and operated by each company
  • Give the NTC access to base stations or cell sites for monitoring purposes

This means that Globe and Smart, considered as a duopoly for practically monopolizing the industry in the absence of another competing firm, must show proof of genuine service improvement for the benefit of direct consumers and the market at large.

NTC Approval on Globe and Smart Co Use of BellTel Frequency

2nd slowest in Asia

A 2015 study by online metrics provider Ookla showed the Philippines having the second slowest average download speed of 3.64 megabits per second (Mbps) among the 22 Asian countries surveyed.

This compares with the average global broadband download speed of 23.3 Mbps for Asia, or nearly eight times faster than that of the Philippines.

While PLDT CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan declared that customers may see an improvement in services in the next six months, Globe CEO and President Ernest Cu said subscribers will be able to feel improvements in the next three to four months.

PLDT and Globe are also relinquishing certain radio frequencies which will be returned to the government through the NTC.

"These radio frequencies to be returned by subsidiaries of Vega Telecom to the NTC will be sufficient, together with radio frequencies already held by the NTC, to allow for a third-party operator to enter the market," PLDT said in a statement Monday. – VDS, GMA News