Velarde fumes after Rios declares NOW’s fourth telco claim baseless, meant to jack up stocks

Businessman Mel Velarde is apparently irked by the statement of former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Eliseo M. Rio rubbishing NOW Telecom’s self-proclamation as the “fourth” major telco after Globe of the Ayalas, PLDT-Smart of Salim-MVP, and Dito Telecommunity of Denis Uy.

In a statement, NOW Telecom said it would be investigating “the source of inaccurate and malicious statements to the public that aim to degrade the honest efforts of the Company and its affiliate to provide alternative telecommunication services.”

RELATED STORY: Mel Velarde’s NOW gets provisional authority to operate mobile network

Rio claimed that NOW has no basis to brand itself as the fourth telco because only the DICT or National Telecommunications Commission has the right to make such declaration.

“They have been saying that since around two years ago to to boost their stocks. Today (September 21), their stocks dramatically shoot up,” said Rio in an interview with Businessworld.

NOW rocketed 50 percent to P3.58 on September 21 after getting a provisional authority to operate a nationwide mobile telecommunications system. NOW said the “surge in the stock price of NOW is a clear indication of the public’s response in welcoming an emerging major telco player.”

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios said there were only three major telcos in the country based on market capitalization – PLDT group (P298 billion), Globe group (P277 billion), and DITO (P11.17 billion). Following Monday’s surge, NOW’s market cap has expanded to P5.5 billion.

“There are other players, namely: Converge, InfiniVAN, NOW Telecom, and many others. This list is not in any hierarchy,’ said Cabarios.

NOW is adamant it deserved to be called the fourth major player being the one of only four companies with a CMTC license.

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