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Philippines clears process for choosing third operator

Philippines clears process for choosing third operator

Telecom authorities in the Philippines have approved the proposed process for selecting the market’s highly anticipated third operator.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission are now satisfied that all possible legal and technical sticking points have been accounted for, with the approved rules coming into force on 6th October.

A week from this date, interested parties will be able to obtain bidding documents, and must submit bids before 5th November. Reportedly, at least 12 foreign telcos have expressed interest in forming a new operator via a partnership with a local firm, of which there are several candidates, in order to break the duopoly of PLDT’s Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

The selection criteria for the new operator will likely focus on their commitment to providing strong coverage through the archipelago, although data rates and capex are also expected to be factors. With the process finalised, it is now expected that the new operator will be announced in December.

A third operator has been anticipated since 2016, when president Rodrigo Duterte slammed the poor services offered by Smart and Globe and threatened to allow competition from Chinese firms as an incentive for them to improve. As recently as last week, Duterte stated that he would select a third operator himself if the process was not complete by November.

The selection process has been stalled several times, having originally been scheduled for completion in May.

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