NOW Telecom Company Inc., owned by the Velarde family, secured a permit from the government to operate as the country’s fourth major mobile phone operator.
The National Telecommunication Commission on Sept. 14 issued a provisional authority allowing NOW Telecom to install, operate and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system.
The authority is not specific to 3G or third-generation mobile communications technology but can extend to other technologies such as 4G, 5G or even outer space.
The PA is subject to a number of conditions, including the infusion of an additional capital of at least P1.9 billion from the first two years, capital expenditure of P6.3 billion in the submitted rollout plan and approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the increase in authorized and paid-up capital.
It also requires NOW Telecom to accelerate the installation of broadband data service in the suburban and rural areas. In each phase of project implementation, NOW Telecom is required to comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage.
The NTC order prohibits NOW Telecom from sharing or co-using its frequency to other players such as PLDT/Smart, Globe Telecom, DITO Telecommunity Corp. or any other entity without first securing approval from the commission.
Smart, Globe, Dito and NOW Telecom are the only four cellular mobile telephone service licensees in the Philippines.
The NTC said that based on NOW Telecom’s financial position, its debt-to-equity ratio complies with the 70-30 requirement of the commission. It said its total capital requirement for five years should reach P15.9 billion and the company should infuse at least 30 percent of total capex requirement for two years or in the amount of P1.89 billion.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10972 on Feb. 22, 2018 which renewed 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.
NOW Telecom, an affiliate of publicly listed telecommunications, media and technology firm Now Corp., is setting the stage for its public listing and 5G network rollout.
NOW Telecom appointed Unicapital Inc. as financial advisor for a planned corporate restructuring and exclusive issue manager and financial advisor for a planned listing by way of introduction.
“We are moving forward with the corporate restructuring of NOW Telecom to take it to the next level. NOW Corp. and NOW Telecom were the first to introduce 5G broadband speed of up to 2 Gbps [gigabits per second] direct to our existing enterprise clients,” NOW Group of Companies founder and chief executive Mel Velarde earlier said.
“Our next move is to extend said service to the residential and consumer markets,” he said.