MANILA - Telecommunications frequencies currently available may not be enough for a third player to effectively challenge PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom, the country's anti-trust watchdog said.
Authorities hope to name the third player by the first quarter, as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's efforts to improve internet connectivity in the country. China Telecom and local firm PT&T have expressed interest in the project.
"It is sufficient for purposes of starting the provision of telco services. Whether or not it will allow you to expand and grow to impose a competitive constraint on PLDT and Globe, that’s another question," said Johannes Bernabe, a member of the Philippine Competition Commission.
"They may require more frequencies to be surrendered by PLDT and Globe," Bernabe told reporters.
Globe legal counsel Froilan Castelo said that under law, the company could not be compelled to surrender frequencies that are "utilized and operational."
Spectrum management is also outside the authority of the PCC, Castelo said. There was no immediate comment from PLDT.
In 2016, Globe and PLDT acquired the telecom business of San Miguel Inc under the condition that it would return enough frequencies to the government for the establishment of a third player.
San Miguel had attempted to challenge the two dominant players but its planned partnership with Australia's Telstra fell through.
The Court of Appeals upheld the legality of the acquisition in October last year, despite questions from the PCC. -- report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News