NTC sees continued growth in mobile, broadband subscription


MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) expects the number of mobile telephone service subscribers in the country to register a double-digit increase by the end of this year, from over 77 million last year.

At the 2nd Annual Philippines Telecoms International Summit, NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba also revealed that they do not foresee any further increase in the number of fixed-line subscribers, which as of end-2009 stood at 3.85 million.

Cordoba added that the number of broadband service subscribers will continue to register three-digit growth in the next two to three years. “This is where the future lies,” he said.

As of end-2009, the number of broadband subscribers in the Philippines stood at 3.6 million, more than doubled the 1.77 million registered the year before.

The NTC noted that while the number of cellphone subscribers has increased dramatically from 34.78 million in 2005 to over 77 million as of last year, the growth rate on an annual basis has been on the downtrend. From a 33.77 percent growth in 2007, this has gone down to 18.75 percent in 2008 and to 13.14 percent in 2009.

Telecommunications companies all over the world, however, have been experiencing declining revenues from their mobile voice business but registering huge growth in their broadband activities.

“We believe that growth in this (broadband services) will continue rapidly in the coming years,” Cordoba said during the conference organized by Frost & Sullivan.

The NTC chief said that in support of the development of broadband access networks, the commission has reallocated more than 800MHz of radio spectrum to broadband access networks. The NTC is also in the process of considering other frequency bands to be reallocated to broadband access networks, Cordoba revealed.

 “We are all one in saying that this is where technological growth has its highest potential at present. With the cooperation of our stakeholders, the NTC is confident that in due time, every Filipino will ultimately benefit from broadband services,” he said.

The NTC official also said the agency has issued an order offering amnesty for unlicensed and unregistered radio equipment, in a bid to improve collections as well as abate the proliferation of such unlicensed/unregistered equipment. The order covers individuals, companies and other entities, except radio dealers and manufacturers.

In addition, the commission is looking at the possibility of raising the amount of regulatory fees particularly the spectrum user’s fee (SUF) and the spectrum regulatory fee (SRF). The last time the rates were increased was in 2000.

A big chunk of the SUF comes from the most expensive frequencies, namely broadband wireless access (BWA) and 3G, NTC deputy commissioner Douglas Michael Mallilin said.

In the case of the SRF, the NTC officials said they are looking at proposing amendments to the Public Service Act which provides a fixed fee of 50 centavos for every P100 of paid-up capital as basis for computing the SRF.

Of the P3.1 billion expected revenues of NTC, around P1.2 billion is expected to be raised from the SRF, P1.6 billion from the SUF and the rest from other fees.

For 2009, NTC’s targeted collection was P2.4 billion, but the commission was able to raise P3.4 billion. For this year, the target is P2.6 billion, but the NTC is expected to generate about P3.1 billion.

For next year, the target is to raise around P3.8 billion. “They expect the biggest jump to come from SUF so there is a directive to increase the SUF, if not, expect other networks to keep rolling out for 2010,” the officials added.

The more base stations put up by telcos, the more SUFs that have to be paid, the NTC said. “But if the rollouts do not happen, then we have to increase the rates. If the SUF is P1.6 billion and we are expected to raise P2.1 billion, that means a 25 percent increase if there are no additional networks and DTS,” they pointed out.

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