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Panel to choose third telco on ‘highest committed level of service’

The third major telecommunications player initiative has taken one step forward after a selection process has been agreed upon to determine which firm would challenge industry leaders PLDT and Globe.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. announced on Friday that the oversight committee facilitating the entry of the third telco voted for the "highest committed level of service" (HCLOS) criteria as mode of selection of the new major player.

The HCLOS was chosen over the Department of Finance-backed mode of selection which is to auction off unassigned frequencies to the possible players. 

The HCLOS model - which involves a point system on potential bidders' committed speed, coverage, and capital and operational expenditures - was also the mode of selection preferred by stakeholders during the consultation and market study conducted early this month. 

"The HCLOS was the chosen... we said that this was the one preferred by the stakeholders and almost no one wants to have an auction," Rio said in a phone interview.

The acting DICT chief added that the DOF abstained from voting between the two selection modes.

Rio, however, said that there are still issues that needed to be addressed before the DICT can finalize the terms of reference for the selection of the third telco player, citing the pending Supreme Court resolution on the 3G frequencies awarded to Lopez-led Bayantel.

"We are waiting a court decision, hopefully, next week so after that pwede na," the acting DICT chief said.

"If wala, we can take that Bayantel muna out sa terms of reference para mag move at hindi na magkaroon ng delay," he added.

Days before the oversight committee deliberations, Rio said he will resign if the government pushes through with its plan to auction out frequencies as a way of determining the country's third major telecommunications company.

He earlier said that the auction as way of choosing the third telecom player will only benefit the incumbent players Globe and PLDT as the new entrant would be prompted to recover the cost from its customers.

Because the industry is considered a duopoly dominated by rivals PLDT and Globe, calls have been made by no less than President Duterte and the public at large for a third telco player to raise the quality of service while lowering the costs to consumers.

The DICT is targeting to name the third telco player before the end of the year with September or October as "best case scenario."  —NB, GMA News