Duterte creates committee to oversee entry of third telco player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the creation of an inter-agency committee to oversee the entry of a third telecommunications player.

Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 11 on April 6, a copy of which was released to the media on Wednesday.

His order forms an Oversight Committee composed of representatives from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as chairperson, Department of Finance as vice chairperson, and from the offices of the Executive Secretary and National Security Adviser.

Duterte said the entry of a new telecom company "is a matter of paramount national interest" that needs to be undertaken "in an integrated and transparent manner."

He tasked the Oversight Committee to assist the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), an attached agency of the DICT, in crafting the terms of reference for the selection and assignment of radio frequencies to the new telecommunications company.

The memorandum circular which contains the terms of reference is still being finalized. The third stakeholders' consultation, initially set for March 14, was postponed and the new schedule has yet to be announced.

Duterte also ordered the committee to ensure the "timely implementation" of the plans established by the DICT.

"All concerned government agencies are hereby directed to provide the necessary support and assistance to the NTC and the Oversight Committee by, among others, streamlining and expediting their respective procedures for the issuance of pemits, licenses, and/or certificates necessary for the rolling out of the plans, facilities and other infrastructure that may be required for the operation of the new major player," Duterte said.

The Oversight Committee's mandate expires 30 days from the assignment of frequencies to the selected telecommunications company.

Malacañang has said it is no longer imposing a deadline for the entry of the third player, after Duterte's March target was not met.

The President wants a third player to break the duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom, saying the only way to improve internet speed is to introduce competition.

READ: Report: PH among lowest ranked countries in internet speed, availability

During Duterte's bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Manila in November 2017, he offered China a chance to supply the country's newest telecom provider. Malacañang later clarified any company should still undergo bidding.