During the 22nd Cabinet Meeting, Department of Information and Communications Technology OIC Eliseo M. Rio Jr. brought the idea of extending the timeline for the selection process for the new major telecommunications player by at least two months –a consensus suggestion raised by members of the private sectors and interested firms during a forum held last January 24, 2018.

The President, however, is adamant to have a new major player by the first quarter of 2018 for the benefit of the public.

Guided by the President’s order, the DICT is taking every necessary step to name the third telecommunications player within the prescribed deadline.

The National Telecommunications Commission, DICT’s attached agency, is already finalizing the Memorandum Circular containing the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the selection process, which is scheduled to be released by February 19 and be effective by March 6.

The Department has also reached an agreement with PLDT regarding the return of the CURE frequencies to the government without cost. This was after the President, in the same Cabinet meeting, rejected the idea of the government buying back the frequencies when they were assigned for free in the first place. The to-be surrendered frequencies will be available for the new major player.

The Department, together with the NTC, is also in the process of developing a formula to determine the winning bid, which will take into account the bidder’s committed investment, committed cost for subscribers, committed speed of internet and network coverage. The formula is grounded to the idea that the new major player must have the capacity to compete with the two existing telecommunication companies.

Barring no delay due to the number of non-working holidays, the Department will be able to name the new major player within the timeline set by the President.

As the lead agency in advancing the national ICT agenda, the DICT sees the impending entry of the new major player as a step towards stimulating competition in the telecommunications industry, thus improving the connectivity of the country.