By Chino S. Leyco
British telecom giant Vodafone is interested to participate in the selection for the third major telecommunications player in the Philippines, an economic manager said yesterday.
In a briefing,
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno
disclosed that Vodafone discussed with them its plan to “possibly” enter the Philippines as a third telecommunications player.
“We went to their headquarters and we had discussion on our interest to introduce a third party in the duopolistic market,” Diokno told reporters.
Asked to gauge the seriousness of the British multinational telecommunications conglomerate in the local telco business, Diokno said “they appear interested.”
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies as it operates in 25 countries, partners with mobile networks in 46 more, and fixed broadband operations in 18 markets.
Meanwhile, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said that they are sticking to their timeline to identify the third telco player by December, adding the deadline for submission and opening of bids is on November 7.
“Considering that this has been going on since November last year and the telcos have been doing due diligence since February this is no big deal for them. So they can do it by November 7,” Rio said.
Rio said he does not see any point in delaying the selection process as most of the prospective bidders for the new major telco player have already studied the guidelines during its deliberations and assessed their capability to provide communication services.
They have also expressed that the bidding should be done within this year.
He made this statement in reaction to the concern raised by Ronald Solis, former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, that the timeline was “tight” for prospective bidders.
Rio reiterated that the deadline for the third telco to be identified by December was made by President Rodrigo R. Duterte because of high public demand for affordable and speedy communication services in the country.
“This timeline was based on the desire of the President. In fact, his first timeline is that the 3rd telco should be awarded by March, this was not realistic that is why it dragged on. The President was not happy and mentioned this again in his SONA,” Rio said.
“The deadliest deadline he gave us is December. It is not only that we are answering to the President but to the Filipino people as well,” he added.
Based on the timeline set by the DICT, the memorandum circular on the selection process will be effective on October 6.
An invitation to bid will be held on October 7 wherein prospective bidders can buy bidding documents costing up to P1 million on October 8.
A pre-bid conference will be done on October 15. Bidders have until October 22 to submit questions while the government has until November 2 to respond to their queries.
The third telco 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 a memorandum circular released by the DICT last September 21.
Points will be given through the following criteria: national population coverage, capital and operational expenditures and minimum average broadband speed.
Among the companies that have expressed interest to join the bidding are the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Co., Now Corp., Converge ICT Solutions, TransPacific Broadband Group International Inc. and Easy Call Communications Philippines.
Some of the foreign investors expressing interest in the project include China Telecom, Surya Telecom of India, LG Uplus Corp. of South Korea, KDDI Corp. of Japan and Viettel Group of Vietnam. (With PNA)