NOW Corp-backed NOW Telecom, which secured an extension to its provisional authority (PA) in September 2020 to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system, has reportedly received a ‘favourable’ decision from the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) for its service. The Manila Standard writes that on 3 February ARTA reaffirmed its earlier ruling upholding NOW Telecom’s allocation of 220MHz of radio frequencies (1970MHz-1980MHz paired with 2160MHz to 2170MHz, and 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz), including 5G-suitable spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless services.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that in March 2021 ARTA ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to assign the necessary frequencies to NOW Telecom allowing it to operate via its Cellular Mobile Telephone Systems (CMTS) concession. In an order dated 1 March 1, ARTA issued an order of automatic approval for the assignment by the NTC of certain frequencies which NOW needs as a CMTS licensee. In its order, the anti-red tape body said the NTC failed to approve or disapprove NOW Telecom’s application for ‘assignment of concomitant frequencies for the exercise of its CMTS provisional authority since January 2006 despite submission of all required documents and payment of all required fees and charges, and the issuance of the said provisional authority and the extension thereof.’ Further it contended that: ‘Under Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11302 (Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018), the said application or request for assignment of concomitant frequencies for the exercise of NOW Telecom’s CMTS PA as attested to in NOW Telecom’s affidavit of completeness is hereby declared complete, and is now deemed automatically approved by operation of law.’

Commenting on the latest development, NOW Telecom’s president, Rene Rosales, said: ‘With the recent ARTA ruling, NOW Telecom will be able to continue pursuing its mobile broadband services aspirations that have been hampered for more than 16 years due to the lack of sufficient frequencies to operate. NOW Telecom has been a holder of a CMTS Provisional Authority alongside Smart Telecommunications and Globe Telecom prior to the third telco bidding.’

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