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Grameenphone of Bangladesh eyes third major telco slot in PH

Grameenphone, a joint venture of Norway’s Telenor and Bangladesh-based Grameen Telecom Corp., is keen in participating in the bidding for the new major player in the Philippine telecommunications industry controlled by the duopoly of Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc. 

“Hopefully we will participate,” Shanshil Ahmed Shibly, deputy director  regional operations and  head of technology division of Grameenphone, said. 

When asked for a local partner, Shibly said, “that is a discussion that is going on.” 

“I think it’s [the Philippines] a good market. We are already doing very good business in Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar also, where we are close to No. 1. This market also has very good potential and the size [with young customers],” he said.

Grameenpone is the largest mobile phone operator in Bangladesh with over 58 million subscribers and 54-percent subscriber market share. 

The company is 55.8-percent owned by Telenor, while Grameen Telecom, the other main shareholder, holds 34.2 percent as of December 2017. 

Gamaliel Cordoba, commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, earlier said the  bid documents could be purchased for P1 million each from the agency starting Oct. 6 this year. 

The submission and opening of the bids is set on Nov. 5 this year. 

Acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio earlier said China Telecom, LG Uplus Corp., Korea Telecom, Vietnam Telecom, AT&T, Telenor [of Norway] and a Japanese telco company expressed interest to join the bidding.

Local telco players that were also keen on joining the selection process included Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Converge ICT, Transpacific Broadband Group Inc., EasyCall Communications Phils. Inc. and TierOne.

Under the final terms of reference issued by NTC and the Department of Information Communications and Technology, the potential bidders will be chosen based on the highest committed level of service for over a period of five years. 

The three criteria are national population coverage with a weight of 40 percent, minimum average broadband speed of 25 percent and capital and operating expenditure with 35 percent. 

The rules stated that the minimum population coverage for the first year should be 10 percent, a figure that should reach 50 percent by the fifth year.

The new player is expected to invest a minimum of P40 billion in the first year and P140 billion in five years.

The selection committee will use a point system based on the documents submitted by the potential players.

The bidders should post a participation fee of P700 million, or equivalent to 0.5 percent of the minimum capital and operational expenditure at the end of the commitment period.

Topics: Grameenphone , Telenor , Grameen Telecom Corp.
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