Updated Oct 22, 2018, 3:35:12 AM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — The government can name the third telco in more than two weeks, a Cabinet official said Monday.
"On November 7, we will have a provisional new major player, barring any decision from the court," Information and Telecommunication Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said during a Senate committee hearing on the search for the third telco.
Rio referred to the legal complaint filed by a telco bidder. A Manila court had junked the temporary restraining order filed by NOW Telecom, which sued the National Telecommunications Commission for allegedly institutionalizing a "money-making scheme" in its requirements for companies who wish to bid for the slot.
"We are on track in fulfilling President Duterte's desired timeline, which is to have NMP (new major player) by November this year," Rio said.
If it all works out, the winning third telco may even have initial subscribers by mid-2019, he said.
"Bigyan natin ng six months or so yung third telco para makapagrollout ng kanilang imprastruktura, then ito naman baka by middle part of next year makakuha na sila ng subscriber by June," Rio said.
If the selected third major player fails to build its organization, the second winning bidder will automatically take its place to compete with Globe and Smart.
Eight companies have bought bid documents worth P1 million, including three foreign groups. Bidders are required to have congressional franchise.
Rio said one of the foreign bidders can be considered bigger than Globe and Smart.
The third telco will be selected using an automated technology. The computer will determine its level of commitment in terms of reach and speed.
Amid cyber security threats and data breaches worldwide, bidders are also required to declare that they will not be a national security threat.
"There's a provision that whoever will win must assure the government that it will not be a national security threat," Rio said.
But 17 days before government will announce the third telco, some issues have yet to be ironed out.
Senators want to make sure a common tower will not be monopolized.
"Meron kasing isang nag-suggest na dapat isang kumpanya lang o dalawang kumpanya lang ang pwedeng magtayo ang cell towers — kalokohan iyon. Dapat kung sinong pwedeng magtayo ng cell towers basta nasa regulasyon ay magtayo dahil kung maraming cell towers mas gaganda ang signal natin," Senate Public Services Comittee Chairman Grace Poe said.
In the next hearing, senators will tackle safeguards on national security for the the third telco.