Sunday 17 February

DICT to punish Smart, Globe with higher fees for idle frequencies


The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has directed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to conduct a review on spectrum user fees being paid by telecommunication firms in a bid to improve the state of mobile services in the country.

The directive comes amid the rapid growth of new technologies and preparations for the entry of a new major player in the local telco industry.

Department Order No. 003-2018 directs the NTC to review and make appropriate adjustment on spectrum user fees for 610-790 megahertz (MHz), 790-960 MHz and 1710-2025 MHz radiofrequency bands to ensure efficient spectrum use.

?Due to the rapid growth of 3G and 4G mobile as well as the global trend towards 5G, it has become necessary for the DICT to encourage and promote the use of currently allocated frequencies such that spectrum user fees shall be applied uniformly and without discrimination to all users under the same classification or category,? the order dated June 13 said.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the initiative aimed to reward the efficient use of frequency spectrums assigned to telco firms.

?The idea is to reward the efficient use of spectrum awarded to a telco, which would be a function of the actual traffic using the spectrum. If a band of spectrum is being used for very light traffic or none at all, the concerned telco will pay much much more SUF (spectrum user fee) than another telco that uses the same band of spectrum efficiently with much more traffic. This will force telcos to return frequencies that they are not using efficiently and make it available to telcos that can,? Rio said in a Facebook post.

Spectrum users fee or SUF, are collected annually from mobile service providers that were assigned frequency bandwidth based on the amount of spectrum used, type of service being offered and economic classification of the areas covered by cell sites. Spectrum management is a key function of government’s communications authority to promote efficient use and maximize social benefits derived from wireless services.

The DICT is seeking to draft a framework for the reallocation of frequencies currently being held by existing telco players by the end of this year.

The agency will study best practices worldwide for allocating frequencies, the bulk of which are currently controlled by major telco players PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. The DICT estimates that 30.32 percent of all available radio frequencies are allocated to PLDT, Inc. while Globe holds around 24.9 percent. (PNA)

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