Congress to review telco frequency allocations

The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 20 2009 02:02 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2009 10:02 AM

The House committee on information communications technology will conduct a massive performance review of frequencies allocated by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to local telecommunications companies.

During a committee hearing on House Bill 456 which seeks to regulate fees on text messaging, Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra noted that local telecommunications firms appear to be hoarding frequencies which they are not using.

He noted that the hoarding of this limited resource is preventing the entry of new players in the industry who may be able to offer better service and, at the same time, bring down communication costs due to increased competition.

Mitra had also asked the NTC why the regulator allowed cellular mobile service operators to suspend their text messaging promos during the peak period last Christmas season.

NTC director Edgardo Cabarios explained that they allowed the suspension of the lower promotional rates since the telcos claimed their system will be clogged and bog down if rates are not increased during this period when the volume of text messages are expected to double or triple.

However, Mitra pointed out that if the telcos had used all the frequencies assigned to them, then they should not have a problem dealing with the spike in volume of text messages during peak season and thus no need to revert to higher rates.

He added that if local telcos are hesitant to pour in more capital to make full use of these frequencies, then these should be reallocated to other telcos who can use them.

For his part, Rep. Crispin Remulla said the reason local telcos asked for more frequencies than they need is because they earn extra revenues by selling or leasing these to other telcos, or new entrants in the industry.

Because of these issues, the 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 the courts. – Mary Ann Ll. Reyes