DICT removes P10-B capital requirement for telco bidders

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — The government has removed a previous P10-billion capital requirement for companies interested in becoming the country's third major telecommunications (telco) player.

Speaking at the second stakeholders consultation on the issue, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio said based on the amended draft guidelines for prospective bidders, the winning bidder will be based on the highest committed level of service instead.

"We are no longer basing it on the amount of money that they invest. We are now going to base it on actual resource that they will commit," said Rio.

This means the new telco player must have the widest network coverage, fastest speed, and most number of offered services.

An earlier version of the DICT's draft circular said the third player to enter the country should have a net worth of at least P10 billion and have "proven technical capability" to provide the service.

If it is a consortium, it must be at least 60% owned by Filipinos, with at least one member holding a congressional franchise to install, operate and maintain networks which should be valid until December 31, 2023.

READ: Third telco player must have ₱10-B net worth – draft circular

But Rio said they will "forget everything about money" and instead concentrate on an "easily measurable" level of service.

"So here hindi na yung pera yung tinitignan but 'yung actual committed roll out mo [We're not looking at the money but the actual committed roll out], [what] will be the area you will cover, internet speed you are going to commit, ano yung mga services that you will have after five years," he added.

The new telco player must also serve 65% of the country in five years, and 80% in eight years years.

"Pupukpukin namin ang third telco to come up with a world-class service because yun ang kanilang icocommit, no," Rio said.

[Translation: We'll pressure this third telco to come up with world-class service because that's what they've committed to.]

The government has sought a third player in the telecom industry to speed up internet speed and provide cheaper services in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte had previously said he wanted a third telco provider in the country by March.

READ: Duterte wants DICT to stick with March target for third telco player

Authorities are looking for the new player to have its first 100,000 subscribers before the year ends. The deadline for the bids is on May 24.

CNN Philippines digital producer Eimor Santos contributed to this story.