SC orders gov’t agencies, major telcos to justify agreement on 700 MHz band
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered government agencies to comment on the petition challenging the legality of the agreement between the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co./Smart Communications Inc. (PLDT/Smart) and Globe Telecoms Inc. over the controversial 700 megahertz (MHz) broadcast frequency and other telecom frequencies assigned to them by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
During Tuesday’s en banc (full court) session, the high court gave the NTC, the Philippine Competition Commission, and the two telecommunications companies to comment within 10 days on both the petition for mandamus and the plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by lawyers Joseph Lemuel Baligod Baquiran and Ferdinand Tecson.
“The Court has required comment on the petition also on [the] TRO plea,” a court insider privy to the session said.
The court insider confirmed the action adopted by the en banc requiring respondents NTC, PCC, PLDT/Smart, Globe and San Miguel Corporation’s Liberty Broadcasting Network Inc. (now known as Tori Spectrum Telecom) to comment on the petition seeking to revoke the “co-use agreement” between PLDT/Smart and Globe.
In their 48-page petition, Baquiran and Tecson told the high court that the original legislative franchise on the 700-MHz frequency was granted to Liberty Broadcasting Network Inc. for television broadcasting and not for telecommunications.
At the same time, the petitioners also urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the PLDT/Smart and Globe from using the 700-MHz broadcast frequency and the following telecom frequencies: 2540-2545 MHz, 2580-2595 MHz, 2535-2540 and 2565-2580 MHz.
The two lawyers filed the petition as taxpayers and consumers of telecommunications and Internet services.
The said frequencies have been acquired by PLDT/Smart and Globe after purchasing on 50-50 basis all the issued and outstanding shares of stock of SMCs Vega Telecom for about P70 billion.
The 700-MHz brodcast frequency is reportedly highly valuable since it is able to travel longer distances, which would require fewer cell towers and can penetratethrough building walls, elevators, and even underground parking lots. /ee
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