DICT drafting policy on frequency reallocation

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THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) plans to draft a framework for equitable frequency allocation by the end of the year.

“We are creating a road map, a concept for the equitable allocation of frequency, by the end of this year,” DICT acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said in a phone interview.

Mr. Rio said last year that the agency will study best practices worldwide for allocating frequencies, the bulk of which are currently controlled by incumbents PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. The DICT estimates that 30.32% of all available radio frequencies are allocated to PLDT, Inc. while Globe holds around 24.9%.

What the department will include in the road map would be refarming of frequencies based on the usage by those awarded the frequencies.

“For example, broadcast frequencies can be repurposed for telcos, if the broadcast users are not using the frequencies in a certain location, just like what they do in other countries,” Mr. Rio said.

While the DICT said that the remaining unallocated frequencies are enough for the third player, it is still looking at reallocation to even out the competition.

He added that refarming would prevent companies from purchasing frequencies from those who previously held them, the costs of which would then be probably passed on to the consumer.

Mr. Rio, however emphasized that a law is still needed to allow the NTC to recall and reassign frequencies.

“Right now there needs to be a quasi-judicial process, and there might be cases if the NTC will recall and refarm,” Mr. Rio said.

He added that the department has met with Sen. Grace Poe regarding a draft bill to allow the NTC to recall and refarm frequencies.

The government expects to choose a third player by June, and is in the process of revising its selection criteria.

DICT is leaning towards requiring wider coverage and faster Internet connections, rather than a previous draft that requires having the highest committed financial investment and having a net worth of P10 billion.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo