Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima took a swipe at Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) Chairman Arsenio Balisacan for what he deemed as unnecessary pronouncement of the former NEDA chief as regards to the current issue surrounding the utilization of the 700 megahertz spectrum.
Salalima finally broke his silence on the matter during the launching of Free EDSA WiFi last June 12 as Balisacan and the PCC continue to question the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to allow telecom giants Globe and PLDT to utilize the LTE spectrums they acquired from the dormant telecom holdings of San Miguel Corporation last year.
“Sana they should also look into the skill, the administrative capacity of the NTC in determining the frequency to be assigned, how much (is to be allotted and used)? Because they are there precisely because they are learned, they are skilled in that area,” said Salalima while speaking for the NTC which is now under his newly created DICT.
“And before they make pronouncements, particularly sa public, they should also confer with the NTC on what exactly is going on. And I do not know if they really do understand the state of things as far as frequency is concerned,” he added.
Balisacan recently made a public statement saying he’d ‘rather resign than burden the business sector’, something that telecom insiders believe to be a reference to Globe and PLDT’s decision to push through with the last tranche payment for the San Miguel Corporation telecom assets deal pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the lifting of the injunction filed by the agency.
The PCC, thru its website, has been actively releasing news statements regarding the issue.
“Ang ano ko rito is if you feel that something wrong was done just do it legally, file against it on the court. Do not make so many pronouncements, threatening somebody with this and that because that is not good for public service because also you are alarming possible investors,” said Salalima.
“If there are legal violations, file it in court. Pronouncements when there are pending litigations, to my mind, are not proper. If there are pending court litigations, let the court proceedings go. Unnecessary publicity is not good while the case is pending. Di ba? May pending case kayo tapos salita ka ng salita. Let the courts decide,” he added.
Salalima also addressed the negative notion from different sectors that the use of the 700-mhz, the most powerful spectrum, will create an anti-competitive environment to the telecom sector.
“That (anti-competitive issue) is the jurisdiction of Balisacan, that is his turf, he must be very clear on why there is anti-competitive behavior.
“The other side of the coin here is: ‘Is it anti-competitive if frequencies which are being hoarded, not used, is utilized for public service? Is it anti-competitive for that particular frequency to be utilized, given that there are still available frequencies under the 700-mhz and in other frequencies, because NTC told me that there are still other frequencies other than the 700-mhz, sufficient for a third party player’,” said the eloquent lawyer whil reiterating that Globe and PLDT were only given 66% of the total number of 700-mhz spectrum frequencies available.
“Mas mainam naman siguro yang napapakinabangan na ng taumbayan yang spectrum kesa naman naka-hoard lang sa isang company at hindi nagagamit,” he stressed.
At the same time, Salalima bared that the use of the 700-mhz spectrum proved to be advantageous to the public as the recent survey conducted by leading international content delivery network services Akamai revealed a 20% growth in mobile internet connection speed in the country for the first quarter of the year.
“Last year was something like 2.5 (Mbps) lang tayo, because we were only kalahati ng world standard, kahapon (lang sa test namin) tumaas na, and according to Akamai, it is up to about 5 minimum lumalagpas na nga ruon, nasa 12 (Mbps), nasa 7 na ang average speed,” said Salalima.
“The 700-mhz has a huge role in this, kasi ito yung powerful spectrum, and it doesn’t need much number of cell sites to work. Kulang tayo sa cell sites, kaya kailangang gamitin yan,” he said.
Salalima also assured that in the next months, the DICT will begin laying down the program for the setting up of additional cell sites and fiber optics facilities, which will augment the current facilities built by the two existing telcos.
“But rest assured that we are now finding ways to bridge the gap, eventually, makakahabol tayo sa ibang countries like Vietnam na matagal nang mayroong infrastructure, tayo nagsisimula pa lang. Pero hahabol tayo,” he said.