MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) group is on track to turn over one of its 3G (third generation) network firms to regulators in July.
"We are on track to follow the agreement which is nine months after the deal has been approved for us to turn over CURE (Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprises, Inc.)," said PLDT president Napoloen Nazareno.
By July, CURE subscribers would have migrated to Smart Communications Inc. Red Mobile is CURE's cellular phone brand and has 1.4 million subscribers.
The surrender of CURE's license and congressional franchise is one of the condition set by the NTC when it approved PLDT's acquisition of Digitel.
The Digitel deal gave the PLDT group a 70% control of the domestic mobile market. As of end 2011, the combined cellular subscriber base of Smart, Talk 'N Txt, CURE and Digitel's Sun Cellular stood at 63.7 million.
The deal was approved in October last year. The NTC gave PLDT 9 months to execute the divestment plan, which involves CURE selling its Red Mobile business to Smart. Smart will then sell all its rights and interests in CURE, whose remaining assets include the congressional franchise and its 10MHz 3G license.
After the CURE is surrendered, the NTC would have to bid out CURE's 3G frequency bandwidth to prospective buyers via a competitive auction.
"By end of July, we would be ready to turn over CURE to the NTC for it to commence the bidding of the frequency," said Nazareno.
The telco giant had invested some P1 billion into CURE, which was purchased by Smart from the Ongpin family in 2008.
"Most likely it's in the neighborhood of P1 billion composed of our investment when we bought it, fees we paid to the government, equipment and marketing expenses to build up the subscriber base," he said.