MANILA (UPDATED) - The government hopes to name the third telecommunications player before the Holy Week or in late March, with the formal selection process set to start next week, an official said Friday.
The challenger to PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom must secure a congressional franchise and be able to spend at least P500 billion over 5 years, said Eliseo Rio, officer-in-charge of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
"Yan ang major consideration. Paano sila magiging competitive kung hindi nila kayang tapatan ang gastos ng Globe and Smart?" Rio said, referring to the required capital.
(That's the major consideration. How are they going to be competitive if they can't match Globe and Smart in terms of spending.)
PLDT and Globe set capital spending at $1 billion (P50.3 billion) and $850 million (P42.8 billion), respectively, this year as they braced for the entry of the third player.
China Telecom and Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp have both expressed interest in setting up the third player, according to Malacañang.
Formal invitations to bid will be issued by the DICT next week while the terms of reference for the bidding will be released on Feb. 19. The bidding will start by first week of March, Rio said.
"Hopefully, before Holy Week, we would have already chosen the third telco," Rio said. Holy Week this year falls on the last week of March.
Rio said 32 companies with franchises are eligible to bid, including PT&T and Converge ICT.
Those without franchises such as the Villar Group and ZTE's TierOne based in Davao may opt to partner with those who have one, he said.
PLDT and Globe Telecom continue dominate industry after San Miguel Corp backed out last year and sold its telecommunications assets to the two players.