NOW is 4th player

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    The telecom unit of NOW Corp. has secured a permit to operate as the country’s fourth telecom player, with a mandate to infuse P16 billion in investments to accelerate its broadband rollout in the next five years.

    In a statement, NOW Telecom Co. Inc. said the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued last September 14 the long-delayed extension of its provisional authority (PA) to install, operate and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system.

    The PA is not specific to 3G or third generation mobile communications technology but can extend to other technologies such as 4G and 5G.

    The issuance of the PA is subject to conditions, including capital requirement, broadband rollout in urban and rural areas, and prohibition to share frequencies to other telcos.

    The NTC required NOW Telecom to invest a total capital of P15.9 billion for five years, of which it has to infuse at least 30 percent of the amount in two years or equivalent to P1.89 billion. The company also has to maintain a 70:30 debt to equity ratio.

    NOW Telecom is also required to accelerate the installation of broadband data service in suburban and rural areas and that in each of the phases of project implementation, it shall strictly comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage.

    Likewise, the NTC prohibits the company from sharing or co-using its frequency with the other telcos – Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corp. – or any other entity without first securing approval from the commission.

    As the country’s fourth telco, NOW Telecom is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G network rollout.

    NOW Telecom recently appointed Unicapital Inc. as financial advisor for a planned corporate restructuring as well as exclusive issue manager and financial advisor for a planned listing by way of introduction in a stock exchange.

    Together with its advisor, NOW Telecom is also assessing the suitability of listing its shares on the local bourse or within the region, given its medium-term business plans.

    “We are moving forward with the corporate restructuring of NOW Telecom to take it to the next level,” Mel Velarde, NOW Group of Companies founder and chief executive officer, had said.

    Earlier, NOW Telecom bared plans to spend $713 million for its five-year 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) business plan.

    The company aims to deploy the 5G FWA network in the National Capital Region and offer a broadband plan of up to 10 gigabits per second service.

    Two years ago, President Duterte through Republic Act no. 10972 approved the renewal of NOW Telecom’s legislative franchise for another 25 years to engage in the business of providing telecommunications including electronic communications and electronic communications services throughout the Philippines and between the Philippines and other countries and other territories, including outer space.

    At present, PLDT and Globe have been aggressive in expanding their networks both for mobile and broadband services, while third telco player DITO is on track with its commercial launch by March next year. (M. Iglesias)