Delaying 3rd telco entry to hinder improved services: DICT

MANILA — Delaying the entry of the third telco player in the country will derail the vision of achieving faster and better communication services for the public, the head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said Friday.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr. said the new major player will promote competition and investments in the telco industry amid a petition filed before the Supreme Court that seeks to nullify the confirmation of Mislatel Consortium as the third telco player by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

“To undo the selection process will ultimately derail the goal of achieving better and cheaper telco services for the Philippines. To do that, we need competition and investment, which the New Major Player will provide,” Rio said in a Facebook post, in apparent reaction to the petition, which was filed by data privacy lawyer Marlon Anthony Tonson.

The DICT official noted that the crafting of Memorandum Circular 09-09-2018, which set the terms of reference (TOR) for the selection of the new major telco player and the bidding process was conducted in a transparent manner.

“It should be noted that the bidding was the most transparent, publicly participated TOR (officially known as MC 09-09-2018) ever crafted and the fact that there were 10 applicants that bought the bidding documents at a non-refundable amount of PHP 1M is a testament to this,” Rio said.

Furthermore, the TOR will require the third telco player to ensure that its network and facilities will not compromise national and cyber security.

Tonson filed the petition before the Supreme Court last month, asking it to nullify the awarding of the third telco slot to Mislatel and invalidate MC 09-09-2018 on the grounds that it is “unconstitutional, exclusionary and dangerous to national security.”

In his petition dated Dec. 17, 2018, Tonson alleged that the selection process for the new major player in the telecommunications industry was “exclusionary” and “anti-competitive.”

According to him, the fees involved in the selection process likewise served as barriers that obstructed genuine competition.

The DICT has said that the guidelines for the selection process aim to ensure that the new major player has the financial and technical capability to compete with existing dominant players PLDT and Globe Telecom in delivering telco services to the public.

“The winner is given 90 days to comply with all the post-qualification requirements. Therefore, the petition is premature as the process is still ongoing and has not yet been concluded,” Rio added. (PNA)