Udenna-China Telecom wins provisional bid as 3rd telco player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) The government decided Wednesday to name the Mislatel Consortium as the provisional new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market.

The consortium is composed of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation based in Davao City and its logistics arm, Chelsea Logistics Holdings, partnered with the state-owned China Telecommunications, and the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Corporation, Inc. (Mislatel). Congress has granted Mislatel a 25-year franchise to operate back in 1998.

Mislatel welcomed the decision, saying the combined assets of its member companies will help the consortium to perform well as the country's third telco player.

"The consortium is confident that Udenna Corporation's extensive supply chain and knowledge of local industries will complement the world-class technology and telecommunications expertise of China Telecommunications Corporation, one of the world's largest and most experienced fixed and mobile network operators. Meanwhile, Chelsea Logistic Corp.'s expertise in logistics and distribution will enable the speedy development of the network," it said in a statement Wednesday.

While Udenna is not currently in the telecommunications business and Mislatel is not a known player, their partner China Telecom is one of the largest telecom providers in Asia and has more than 200 million subscribers.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier offered Beijing through its Premier Li Keqiang to break the duopoly of Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart in the country.

"During the bilateral talks between President Duterte and the Chinese Premier, President Duterte offered to the People's Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecom's carrier in the country," former Spokesperson Harry Roque said in November 2017.

Mislatel was one of the three bidders that pushed through with Wednesday's selection process, which included Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and the SEARS Telecom Consortium of former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson. SEARS Telecom is composed of Mindanao-based TierOne Communications, the Luis Chavit Singson Group of Companies, Cambodia's Southeast Asia Telecom, Singapore's Miller Pte Ltd., and China's Fujian Torch Electron Tech.

But the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday disqualified SEAR Telecom consortium and PT&T  for alleged incomplete documents, participation documents for the former, and a certificate of technical capacity for the latter.

SEARS and PT&T said they will file an appeal with the NTC.

Meanwhile, Mislatel's documents promised 5 Mbps minimum and 55 Mbps maximum connection speed for next five years, and coverage area of 10-50 percent of the Philippines, and P40 billion to P140 billion investment in its first year as the third telco player.

What happens to the other bidders?

Now Telecom, which had arrived early at the office with its selection documents, did not push through with its submission as it elevated its case against the NTC to the Court of Appeals.

Local bidder Converge ICT, which was supposed to partner with South Korea's KT Corp., also did not push through with its bid. Converge ICT President Dodie Elvina attended the bidding to voice out his objections on the selection process.

Whether or not the objections from Converge ICT and LCS Group should be heard during the bidding stalled the selection process, which started at 10:30 a.m. Eventually, the selection committee decided that the complaints should be aired some other time.

The NTC also contested PT&T's claims about its technical qualifications and will issue an official statement on the matter.