PH’s ‘4th Telco’, NOW Telecom: Everything you need to know

PH’s ‘4th Telco’, NOW Telecom: Everything you need to know

The telco industry has always been spearheaded by gigantic rivals, PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecommunications. While the prospect of more competitors is always good (especially in such a domineered market as telecommunications), it behooves us as purveyors of the market to dig up information about oncoming players.

Earlier this month, though word then hadn’t been official yet, NOW Telecom had all-but been named as the Philippines’ fourth telco. With extended provisional authority to operate from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the tech-forward company is setting foot on the same playpen as the three considered major players in the space—PLDT/Smart, Globe, and Dito Tel.

With this development in mind, you might be thinking: What is NOW Telecom? Who are the people behind it? When will it be ready for go-time? We have scoured for information about the company to answer major questions in this article. Read on!

What is NOW Telecom?

NOW Telecom is a wireless telco provider poised to provide Filipinos with fast and reliable internet. As aforementioned, it is touted as the “fourth telco” in the Philippines. 

The company is part of the NOW Corp. conglomerate, which at press time is in the business of enterprise telecommunications, media, I.T. services, manpower solutions, cable TV, and more. Here’s a broad look at their services, taken from their website.

PH’s ‘4th Telco’, NOW Telecom: Everything you need to know

Who’s behind NOW Telecom?

Mel Velarde is the current President and CEO of NOW Corp. Prior to this, Velarde was appointed chairman of the Science and Technology Committee at UNESCO. He also co-founded and oversaw Sky Cable, a subsidiary of ABS-CBN. 

That last bit is crucial, in that Velarde was among those who championed for the network’s shutdown, with some pointing to the unpleasant breakup with ABS-CBN years ago. In the aftermath of the ABS-CBN shutdown, Velarde swiftly sought to “secure” ABS-CBN’s lost airwaves. Business and finance web portal Bilyonaryo covered this story, pointing to his ties with President Rodrigo Duterte.

What are NOW Telecom’s core products?

At press time, NOW Telecom offers home connectivity to users, powered by NOW’s own hardware, which includes:

  • LTE Outdoor Device
  • LTE Indoor Router
  • LTE Pocket Wi-Fi

Now Corp also offers wireless broadbands for enterprise clients under their service NOW Fiber Air. Some noteworthy clients include CNN Philippines, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Capitol Medical Center, STI Colleges, UnionBank of the Philippines, and more.

Will NOW Telecom offer 5G Capability?

NOW Telecom is spending big money on 5G. Its five-year 5G fixed wireless access business plan sees a massive spend of P34.5 billion. “The company aims to deploy the 5G FWA network in the National Capital Region and offer a broadband plan of up to 10-gigabit per-second service,” according to a press release.

Not only that but NOW Telecom is also partnered with SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest telco, to help build its 5G network.

How will NOW Telecom compete with the likes of Smart and Globe?

To finalize its standing as the country’s “fourth telco” and to prepare for its public listing, NOW Telecom has to throw a tonne of capital to get approval from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company will also have to accelerate installation in suburban and rural areas and is not able to share frequencies with PLDT/Smart, Globe, and Dito Tel.

That last bit is key, in that the company might have a hard time competing with telco giants Smart and Globe. Or even newcomer Dito Tel. According to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios: “If you talk about mobile, tatlo lang. You have one coming in,” Cabarios said. “Of course, NOW is an authorized mobile network operator…Meron siyang spectrum but of course limited.” 

As of press time, NOW Telecom can only currently serve frequencies as fast as 3,500 megahertz (MHz). Clearly, NOW Telecom has plans for bigger things, but as of right now, Cabarios concludes: “You really cannot compete.”

When will NOW Telecom become available to the public?

Currently, there is no word as to when the company will become available to everyone. Those interested can sign up to be “first to own” NOW Telecom’s consumer products. Visit their website here.

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