NOW Telecom regains license as telco player in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — A telecommunications player has regained its license to operate in the Philippines.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) extended the license to offer mobile network services of NOW Telecom Company, Inc., according to a disclosure of its parent firm to the stock exchange. This would allow the firm to offer mobile data, voice calls and text messages to customers nationwide.

The 17th Congress renewed NOW Telecom's franchise by another 25 years through a law signed in February 2018. Prior to this, the company was called Infocom Communications Network, Inc., which secured a franchise in 1992.

NOW Telecom gained approval to put up cell networks, making it the fourth major player in the local telecommunications sector. This comes barely a year after the NTC named the Dennis Uy-led Mislatel Consortium, now known as Dito Telecommunity Corporation, as the third telecommunicatinos provider in the country.

"We have been providing guaranteed broadband to enterprises, including the government sector. We reiterate our belief that at present, there is an insufficiency in telecommunications facilities that can effectively address the needs for day-to-day real time operations and at the same time provide disaster mitigation during times of emergencies," NOW Telecom President Rodolfo Pantoja said in a statement Monday.

President Rodrigo Duterte had promised during the presidential campaign to dislodge the duopoly of Smart Communications and Globe Telecom in this sector.

Duterte warns telcos: Shape up or face foreign competition

NOW Telecom previously bared plans to collaborate with Dito for mobile services, and revealed that they are in the race to offer 5G wireless broadband to subscribers. Back in July, the service provider partnered with the Philippine Fiber Optic Cable Network Ltd. (PFOCN), a subsidiary of Singapore-based Hyalroute Group which is a global supplier of fiber network technology.

In a text message, Undersecretary Eliseo Rio, Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that while NOW Telecom has secured an extended license, it still needs to be assigned frequencies to match the level of Smart, Globe, and Dito.

"Any telco with a valid franchise can operate and give telecommunication services in the Philippines. However, DICT has not designated any telco as the fourth player as there is no selection process for such," Rio said in a text message.

NOW Telecom vied for the third telco spot last year, but lost to Dito. Rio previously said that the DICT may order holders of radio frequencies who use the spectrum inefficiently to return these to the government, which can then be assigned to new entrants like a fourth or fifth player in the domestic telecommunications market.