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SMC rebuffs Smart, Globe plea

San Miguel Corp. on Wednesday turned down the plea of Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications to share some of its “very powerful” frequency band, which the conglomerate plans to use to build a new mobile broadband company in joint venture with Telstra Corp. of Australia.

“They [Globe and Smart] have more than enough frequency between them. They have almost 300 megahertz of LTE [long-term evolution] frequency, why do they need more? All they need is to improve and fine-tune what they have,” San Miguel president Ramon Ang said at the sidelines of the special stockholders’ meeting of Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc. 

Ramon Ang

“They want what we have, so that we could not operate,” Ang said.

San Miguel, which owns wi-Tribe Telecommunications Inc. and High Frequency, holds 80 Mhz and 10 Mhz of the spectrum in the 700 Mhz band, respectively. 

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn earlier said San Miguel would be a “very strong” partner in the Philippines because of its spectrum holdings.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the parent company of Smart, earlier said the 700 Mhz band is a “very powerful” frequency, because the coverage is wider and the capital spending requirement is lesser. The spectrum was previously used for analog television broadcasting.  

PLDT and Globe asked the National Telecommunications Commission for their fair share in the 700 Mhz band.

The 700 MHz band, located above the TV broadcast channels, penetrates buildings and walls and covers larger areas. Mobile wireless service providers in other countries have been using the spectrum to offer mobile broadband services. 

Ang said talks with Telstra for possible mobile broadband joint venture was still “ongoing.” 

The planned joint venture between San Miguel and Telstra would see the local conglomerate holding a majority stake, in compliance with the 1987 Constitution,  which limits the foreign ownership of utilities to a maximum of 40 percent.

Telstra plans to invest less than $1 billion in the Philippines to roll out the telecom network. 

Penn also described the telco experience in the Philippines as “lousy.”

Telstra currently operates customer service centers in the Philippines that serves its clients globally. San Miguel earlier said it planned to launch mobile broadband services as early as January next year.

San Miguel has  four telecommunications companies under its portfolio, including Express Telecommunications Inc., Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc., Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc. and Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc.

Topics: San Miguel Corp. , SMC , Smart , Globe , Telstra Corp. of Australia
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