China Telecom on Friday purchased bidding documents, formally signaling its participation in the selection process for the next major player in the country’s telecommunications industry.
The Chinese telco firm is the second foreign company, after Norway’s Telenor Group, to express interest in coming in to become the third telco player in the country, according to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.
China Telecom bought bidding documents worth PHP1 million at about 11 a.m., joining other prospective bidders TierOne Communications in partnership with the LCS Group of Companies, Udenna Corp., PT&T Corp., Now Telecom, and an unidentified company.
“This shows telcos’ confidence in the selection process that only Now (Telecom), out of 7, is challenging in court,” Rio said in a statement.
Now Telecom has filed a case against the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last Oct. 8, the same day it bought bidding documents, before the Manila Regional Trial Court due to certain provisions in the terms of reference, which were supposedly not tackled during a series of public consultations.
These provisions include the PHP700-million participation security, the PHP14-billion to PHP24-billion performance security, and a PHP10-million non-refundable appeal fee, which are considered as barriers to entry and “money making schemes” against a prospective major telco player, according to Now Telecom.
However, Rio explained that the same provisions were included in the guidelines to ensure that the third telco player possesses the financial and technical capability to compete with the existing duopoly of PLDT and Globe.
The DICT official further said that Now Telecom’s case against the NTC is only aimed at delaying the selection process for the third telco player.
The department seeks to award the third telco player contract by December.
The new major player will be selected based on its highest committed level of service or its financial and technical capability to efficiently deliver communication services to the public, based on national population coverage, capital and operational expenditures, and minimum average broadband speed.