ARTA drops automatic approval ruling for NOW Telecom spectrum

ARTA drops automatic approval ruling for NOW Telecom spectrum

The Philippines’ bureaucracy-busting Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) appears to have had second thoughts on a previous ruling in which it approved a spectrum holding to be issued to NOW Telecom.

NOW Telecom and its sister firm Newsnet (News and Entertainment Network Corporation) have held the provisional authority to operate a CMTS (cellular mobile telephone system) network since September 2020. However, the firms lack the spectrum required, and so have been forced to extend the concession without being able to launch services.

The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) did not issue a spectrum holding and indeed put forward a motion to reconsider NOW Telecom’s provisional authority for the network. In March 2021, ARTA issued a Declaration of Completeness and Order of Automatic Approval for NOW Telecom’s application for a holding, effectively overruling the NTC’s motion.

However, local media now reports that on 17th June 2022, ARTA issued two resolutions aligning itself with a “final and executory” ruling made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 9th July 2021 which “affirmed the authority of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) in assigning and use of frequency”.

According to CommsUpdate, ARTA’s ruling granted NOW Telecom the rights to use 220MHz of spectrum from 1970MHz-1980MHz, paired with 2160MHz to 2170MHz and 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz, including 5G frequencies for mobile and fixed wireless broadband. This reportedly impacted the spectrum holding of the country’s third major operator DITO Telecommunity, and the operator’s subsequent complaint appears to have prompted ARTA’s about-face.

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