House committee to review frequency usage by telcos

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2009 07:47 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2009 07:45 PM

The House committee on information communications technology has passed a resolution to review frequency usage by local telecommunications firms.

During the committe's hearing on House Bill 456, which seeks to regulate fees on text messaging, Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra noted that telecoms firms appear to be hoarding frequencies, which they are not using.

Earlier, industry regulator National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) started its own review of the frequency spectrum and threatened to revoke frequency bands it assigned to some telecoms firms because of non-usage.

Mitra explained that hoarding of frequencies, which he said were a limited resource, has prevented the entry of new players who may be able to offer better service and, at the same time, bring down communication costs due to increased competition.
   
Mitra also asked the NTC why it allowed local telecom giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom to suspend their text messaging promos during the peak hours last Christmas season.
   
NTC director Edgardo Cabarios had responded that they allowed the suspension of the lower promotional rates since the telcos claimed their system would be clogged if rates were not increased during this period when the volume of text messages were expected to double or triple.
   
However, Mitra pointed out that if the telcos had used all the frequencies assigned to them, they would not have a problem dealing with the spike in volume of text messages during peak season and, thus, would not need to revert to higher rates.
   
He added that if the companies were hesitant to pour in more capital to make full use of their frequencies, then these should be reallocated to other telcos who could use them.
   
For his part, Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla said that the reason local telcos asked for excess frequencies is because they could earn extra revenues by selling or leasing these to other telcos, or new entrants in the industry.
   
Because of these issues, the House committee resolved to order the NTC to submit a full list of frequencies allocated in the last 10 years and indicate which are being used and which frequencies are still available.
   
The order includes all frequencies that are the subject of temporary restraining orders issued by courts.