MANILA, Aug. 9 (PNA) — The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has approved for plenary approval a measure extending for 25 years the franchise of the Smart Communications Inc. (SMART) which will expire in 2017.
Rep. Marcelino R. Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City), committee chairman, said House Bill 5942 allows Smart to continue to carry on the business of providing electronic telecommunication services in the Philippines and abroad.
“This will also ensure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people,” Teodoro said.
Deputy Speaker Giorgidi B. Aggabao (4th District, Isabela), author of House Bill 5942, said Smart was granted authority to operate a mobile cellular service in 1993 and has since then been actively operating as a telecommunications provider in the country for both domestic and international markets.
“SMART began its commercial operations, grown as one of the country’s leading telecommunications providers. It is operating cell sites, cellular mobile broadband base stations, and fixed wireless broadband-enabled base stations, covering 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country,” Aggabao said.
The franchise allows Smart to construct, establish, install, maintain, lease, co-use, purchase and operate the corresponding transmitting and receiving stations, satellites, lines, systems, networks, international gateways, local exchanges and platforms as it may consider necessary and convenient or reasonable.
Smart is required to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and the appropriate permits and licenses.
The President of the Philippines reserves a special right to temporarily take over and operate the stations or facilities of Smart, in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order.
Smart is prohibited to lease, transfer, sell, grant the usufruct, or assign the franchise, rights or privileges or its controlling interest without the prior approval of Congress.
Refusal or failure to accept the franchise or to operate within two years period shall render the franchise void.
The measure also accords to Smart any advantage, favor, privilege, exemption, exception or conditions granted under existing franchises, or which may be granted for telecommunications.
Smart faces a fine of P500 per working day for non-compliance in the submission of its annual report to Congress. (PNA)