NOW Telecom Company’s bid to be a formidable major player in the local telecommunications mobile industry finally clears its final hurdle.
This was after the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) issued an order of automatic approval for the much-delayed assignment by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of certain frequencies which NOW Telecom needs as a cellular mobile telephony service (CMTS) licensee from the NTC. NOW Telecom is one of only four telecommunications companies in the country with a CMTS license.
NTC’s failure to act on NOW Telecom’s application for more than a decade, according to the ARTA, is a violation of Republic Act no. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018, which seeks to increase efficiency in government service by reducing processing time, eliminating red tape, simplifying requirements and procedures, and expediting both business and non-business transactions with government.
The order also resulted in the automatic approval by operation of law of NOW Telecom’s application for a provisional authority to operate in a certain frequency range, as ARTA directed the NTC to issue the PA applied for and the concomitant frequencies prayed for in its original application as a matter of course.
In the order issued last March 1, ARTA said that under Section 10 of RA 11032, NOW Telecom’s application or request for assignment of certain frequencies for the exercise of its CMTS provisional authority is declared complete and is now deemed automatically approved by operation of law.
ARTA ordered the NTC, through its commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, to comply with said order immediately and to submit proof of compliance within three days from receipt of the order.
ARTA, which is empowered by RA 11032 to ensure that all government agencies act on all applications within the periods prescribed by law, explained that NOW Telecom was able to prove that the NTC failed to act on its application for assignment of concomitant radio frequencies and since January 2006 despite the company’s submission of all required documents and payment of all required fees and charges and to issue the provisional authority and extension applied for.
NOW Telecom president and chief operations officer Rene Rosales said that with these frequency assignments, NOW Telecom will now have the capability to deliver vastly fast and better broadband services to the Filipino people.
Rosales pointed out that with this ARTA ruling and award of frequencies, NOW Telecom emerges as a formidable player in the telecom mobile industry.
As a result of ARTA’s order of automatic approval, NOW Telecom is assigned 220Mhz radio frequencies, including 5G frequencies, for mobile and fixed wireless by operation of law.
As early as 2005, the NTC in an order found NOW Telecom to be legally, technically, and financially qualified, as a result of which it was granted its application for a CMTS PA, but failed to assign the frequencies that it needed, sitting on the company’s application for assignment of the needed frequencies for years.
Under Section 10 of RA 11032, if a government office or agency fails to approve or disapprove an applicant or request for issuance of license, permit, etc., within the prescribed processing time, then said application or request shall be deemed approved provided that all required documents have been submitted and required fees and charged paid.
In a resolution dated March 1, ARTA said that all the requisites for the grant of automatic approval under Section 10 are present in NOW Telecom’s case.
It also pointed out that NTC’s “obstinate refusal to assign frequencies to NOW Tel, and its action, coupled with the lapse of an inordinate period of time despite the existence of all the requirements is a clear violation of RA 11032, and a form of manifest partiality against NOW Tel.” This was after the NTC failed for almost 16 years now counting from the issuance of NOW Telecom’s CMTS PA in 2005 to assign the concomitant frequencies to the company’s CMTS PA.
NOW Telecom renewed its PA last September 2020 to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system in the Philippines.