PLDT to give up spectrum to push through acquisition

The incumbent operator in the Philippines has offered to give up some of its excess 3G spectrum, in an effort to clear the way for regulatory approval of the acquisition of a rival.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) is willing to offload 10MHz of its 3G frequency in an attempt to push through its bid to acquire rival Digitel, a source familiar with the matter told The Manila Times. At present, the PLDT group has a combined 25Mhz of 3G frequency.

The 25Mhz that the firm currently owns comes from acquisitions that the operator has recently made. 15Mhz of its spectrum is owned by subsidiary Smart Communications and another 10Mhz by Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises (CURE), a company that Smart Communications had previously acquired.

The source said that PLDT is likely to give up the 3G frequency of CURE because it is in the lower frequency band. CURE’s uplink frequency bandwidth is in the 1955Mhz-1965Mhz range and its downlink frequency in the 2145Mhz-2155Mhz range.

Meanwhile, Smart’s frequency is in the 1920-1935 Mhz/2110-2125Mhz range, and so has the least amount of interference and allows for the clearest over-the-air transmission.

If PLDT sells off its 10MHz to gain the green light for the acquisition, it will be able to replace it with Digitel’s 10Mhz of 3G frequency, which is in the 1925Mhz-1945Mhz and the 2125 Mhz-2135Mhz range.

Another rival, Globe Telecom, had previously said that PLDT should divest its excess frequencies, particularly in 3G for re-distribution to Globe and other telcos, if it is to go ahead with the acquisition.

A Senate committee has looked into the proposed acquisition and has issued a report saying the deal complied with Philippine laws. The report added that there was no basis to indicate that the deal will restrain competition within the telecom industry or hurt public interest.

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