A sig­nal to carry out plans to im­prove ser­vices

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial -

NOW that the Court of Ap­peals has ruled that the 169-bil­lion sale of San Miguel Cor­po­ra­tion‘s (SMC) sale of its telco as­sets to Philippine Long Dis­tance Tele­com Co. and Globe Tele­com is “deemed ap­proved by op­er­a­tion of law,” we look for­ward to the two telco firms to go all-out with their pro­grams to speed up their ser­vices.

The Philippine Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion in June, 2016, had sought a re­view of the 169-bil­lion sale and asked the two tel­cos to sub­mit doc­u­ments on the trans­ac­tion. It later said the pa­pers they submitted were de­fec­tive in form and sub­stance and that their no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the PCC was not suf­fi­ciently com­pli­ant with PCC re­quire­ments.

Last Oc­to­ber 18, 2017, the CA di­rected the PCC to cease and de­sist from con­duct­ing any fur­ther re­view as it deemed the sale as com­pli­ant with the PCC’s own mem­o­ran­dum cir­cu­lars man­dat­ing par­ties in trans­ac­tions amount­ing to more than 11 bil­lion to no­tify the PCC.

It has been 17 months since the 16-bil­lion deal that al­lowed PLDT and Globe to ac­quire the 700mega­herz fre­quency that would have en­abled the two firms to greatly im­prove their ser­vices. The two firms had been given one year to do this by the Na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NTC) but the le­gal ac­tion taken by the PCC stopped all im­prove­ment pro­grams mak­ing use of the new fre­quency.

In its de­ci­sion last month, the Court of Ap­peals ac­knowl­edged the re­spec­tive pow­ers of the NTC and the PCC. The NTC has the power and tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise to al­lo­cate ra­dio fre­quen­cies, while the PCC has au­thor­ity to de­ter­mine the com­pe­ti­tion­re­lated as­pects of such al­lo­ca­tion but may not re­view the NTC’s al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sions. The two agen­cies should con­sult each other, “guided by the over­ar­ch­ing goals of pro­mot­ing mar­ket ef­fi­ciency and pro­mot­ing the con­sumers’ wel­fare, with a keen aware­ness that overzeal­ous in­ter­ven­tion by reg­u­la­tory agen­cies may de­ter and ham­per the very goals they seek to achieve,” the court said.

This re­minder is for the two reg­u­la­tory agen­cies. For the two telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion firms – PLDT and Globe – the court de­ci­sion should serve as a sig­nal to be­gin car­ry­ing out their long-de­layed plans to greatly im­prove their ser­vices.

Many other prob­lems stand in their way, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment red tape that is hold­ing back the erec­tion of tow­ers and cell sites. But the Court of Ap­peals de­ci­sion should en­able the two telco firms to now make full use of the 700-mega­hertz fre­quency they ac­quired from San Miguel last year.

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