Philippines competition watchdog says customers are still suffering from poor speeds and quality of service, even a year after telcos were allowed to acquire 700-MHz spectrum from San Miguel

An appeals court in the Philippines has ruled that the purchase of 700-MHz spectrum by Globe Telecom and PLDT over a year ago was legal, but the country’s competition authority says it will challenge the decision.

Globe Telecom and PLDT, the largest telcos in the Philippines, agreed to pay 52.85 billion pesos (€1.02 billion) for the telecoms assets of San Miguel Corporation in May 2016. Those assets included a number of operating subsidiaries, which held spectrum in various bands, including the 700-MHz range.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approved the spectrum transfer, but the deal drew criticism from competition watchdog the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), which undertook a full review, looking at the impact it would have on the shape of the market and the impact on consumers.

Nonetheless, the telcos quickly started using the 700-MHz spectrum, firing up their first 700-MHz sites within days of announcing the deal.

Last week the appeals court ordered the PCC to stop its review of the deal and recognise its validity, Reuters reported on Monday.

However, the watchdog has revealed it will challenge the decision through the appropriate legal channels, the newswire said.

The PCC noted that customers in the Philippines continue to complain of slow, expensive and poor quality Internet and mobile speeds, even more than a year after Globe and PLDT acquired the new spectrum.

In June last year Reuters quoted NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios as saying that it would revoke its approval of the deal if the telcos did not improve services within a year.