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[April 16, 2006]
PLDT seeks to revoke Transpacific's license to offer VoIP
(Business World (Philippines) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) petitioned regulators last Wednesday to revoke the license that the latter awarded a non-telco for offering internet telephony to PLDT subscribers.
Lawyers of PLDT took such action after they were alerted by a BusinessWorld report that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) gave non-telco Transpacific Broadcast Group International, Inc. (TBGI) the authority to resell voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to PLDT subscribers in Manila; Laguna; Angeles, Pampanga; and parts of Cavite.
Rogelio V. Quevedo, lawyer of PLDT, said in a phone interview that TBGI is a mere corporate client of PLDT Corporate Business Group. Thus, TBGI can neither re-sell PLDT VoIP services to domestic clients nor commercially offer PLDT i-Gate Mode internet service to clients in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan, Mr. Quevedo explained.
Executives of TBGI were sought but could not be reached for comments last week in both their offices in Clark, Pampanga and Manila.
TBGI declared with NTC a paid-up capital of P81 million and a performance bond with Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. equivalent to P1 million to qualify as a VoIP reseller.
VoIP resellers are entities that source VoIP from an authorized provider under an agreement to resell the service directly to retail clients.
"TBGI is a corporate client of PLDT; it cannot resell our VoIP or internet services. There is clearly a breach of contract on their part," Mr. Quevedo said.
"There was misrepresentation by TBGI. It claimed to have an interconnection agreement with us; there is none. It can only resell our VoIP if we can agree to an interconnection fee of P3-P4 per minute that is the market rate for inter-network connections," he added.
For its part, NTC director Edgardo V. Cabarios said the commission will direct TBGI this week to argue against the claims of misrepresentation forwarded by PLDT.
Mr. Cabarios, whose office at the NTC processes applications by prospective VoIP resellers and providers, said TBGI had earlier presented to NTC an interconnection agreement with PLDT duly signed by executives from both companies.
NTC subsequently adopted a "presumption of regularity" on the nature of documents that TBGI made available to regulators, he added.
"TBGI is liable for the veracity of any document its submits to the commission. We will ask it to explain but, if NTC finds out that it engaged in misrepresentation, then that qualifies as grounds for cancellation of its authority [as a VoIP reseller]," Mr. Cabarios said in another phone interview.
NTC had opened the gates of VoIP business to non-telcos like internet service providers and value-added service providers in November 2005.
Previously, VoIP was a territory of telcos, which put up fierce opposition to the liberalization of VoIP by citing telcos' massive investment in laying out telecom infrastructure.
Non-telcos that NTC allowed to operate as either VoIP reseller or provider are TBGI, listed firm Cashrounds, Inc., Cebu-based Technetworks Corp., and BTnT Network Corp.
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