Extelcom seeks frequency for reentry in telco market

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2009 11:50 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2009 08:11 PM

Express Telecommunication Co. Inc. (Extelcom) is asking the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for an additional frequency band as it seeks to re-enter the market via the GSM platform.

The company's re-entry into the cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) business will further foster healthy competition in the market, according to Luisito Sapiera, officer in charge of Extelcom.

Sapiera said Extelcom’s proposed CMTS network will help trigger the next wave of much-needed changes in the Philippine market such as substantial acceleration of subscriber penetration, increased competition on prices and service offerings and vast improvement of service quality.

"The history of Philippine telecoms regulation has always shown that the entry of new, active players had always redounded to the considerable benefit of the Filipino consumers," he noted, adding that "Extelcom is prepared to play a dynamic part in the next phase of the industry’s growth."

Extelcom plans to use its existing frequency assignments, particularly the 880-890 MHz frequency band, together with its paired link, the 925-935 MHz frequency band, which it is asking from the NTC.

The firm already has a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the operation of CMTS and has been assigned the following frequencies: 835-845 MHz, 880-890 MHz, 1720-1725 MHz, and 1815-1820 MHz.

Extelcom’s CPCN had been issued on the basis of a plan for a CMTS network using the analog-based advanced mobile phone system (AMPS), which has been rendered obsolete and outdated by developments in digital communications. Thus, it has to clearly move away from the defunct AMPS to the improved digital GSM platform.

The 880-890 MHz band and its paired link, the 925-935 MHz band, has been identified by the International Telecommunications Union as suitable for offering CMTS on the GSM platform and will allow Extelcom to optimize voice call services and at the same time allow it to offer short messaging services (SMS), or more commonly known as text messaging.

Extelcom officials also announced that their marketing strategy will focus on service quality and affordable voice call rates in order to narrow the cost difference between voice calls and SMS.

Informed sources disclosed that Extelcom’s situation is altogether unusual because a court order presently prohibits the re-allocation and re-assignment of the 880-890 MHz frequency band to any entity or company other than Extelcom.

Insofar as GSM applications are concerned, the 925-935 MHz band is paired with the 880-890 MHz, and as such, the said frequency also cannot be used by any other CMTS carrier except Extelcom.

"The use by Extelcom of its assigned frequencies to offer CMTS on a GSM platform will result in the most economical and judicious utilization of these frequencies, which is in line with the NTC’s mandate to promote the most efficient and effective use of these scarce public resources," Extelcom said.

As for potential occupants or users of the 925-935 MHz band, Extelcom announced that it will provide them with adequate solutions with similar functionality and grade of service as well as support needed for a seamless migration to any affected user.

The company also assured the NTC that it has the necessary resources to pay all spectrum user fees and supervision and regulation fees, noting that it has completed its financial reorganization and is on schedule with its court-approved rehabilitation plan.

"Extelcom strongly believes, and can show, that its current proposals will allow it to make the best use of the relevant frequencies at this time, and can even bring the company out of rehabilitation within a shorter period than contemplated," said Sapiera.