Congress urged to pass law on frequency reallocation

By Aerol John Pateña

June 26, 2019, 6:27 pm

<p><strong>Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla</strong> <em>(File photo courtesy of Mr. Galla's FB account)</em></p>

Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla (File photo courtesy of Mr. Galla's FB account)

MANILA -- An Internet rights advocacy group is urging the incoming 18th Congress to pass a law that will mandate the reallocation of frequency spectrums to new players in the local telco industry, once it starts its session next month.

Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla said spectrum management reform is urgent in order to ensure equitable allocation of frequencies amid the entry of the third telco player.

“Our spectrum management model is outdated. Spectrum licenses last for a lifetime of a franchise around 25 years. Government is not able to reallocate or re-farm frequencies for the new players. What we want is for spectrum management reform to happen,” Galla said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on the sidelines of the 2019 Freedom of Information (FOI) Midyear Conference held Wednesday in Pasay City.

“We are proposing for the next Congress to institute a spectrum management reform policy,” he added.

Radio frequencies are essential for telcos to provide mobile services such as calls, text messaging and Internet browsing.

Senate Bill No. 1742 or the Philippine Spectrum Management Act, which was filed during the 17th Congress by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, will mandate a public bidding of the frequency spectrums which shall be conducted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The NTC shall divide the usable frequencies into a sufficient number of blocks in each spectrum band to ensure adequate competition in the telco industry and prevent harmful interference. The allocation of the radiofrequency spectrum shall be in accordance with the International Table of Radiofrequency Allocation issued by the International Telecommunications Union.

According to Galla, telco giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom currently control around 70 percent of the frequencies with the remaining 30 percent to be allocated to incoming third telco player Mislatel Consortium based on data from the NTC.

“There will be no available frequencies to allocate to a potential fourth or fifth telco player. The population of the Philippines is enough to support even up to 7 telcos already but there are no spectrums available,” he stressed.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. earlier said that the department intends to release its guidelines on the spectrum management to ensure a level playing field in the telco industry.

He likewise urged Congress to pass legislation to support spectrum management reform. (PNA)