The Philippines' PLDT and Globe have asked regulator NTC to be allowed access to the 700-MHz spectrum currently reserved for newcomer to the mobile scene San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
The incumbent operators are seeking access to the band so they can improve their internet speeds for subscribers in a market notable for its slow connection speeds.
Rights to the 700-MHz band are currently held by SMC via its Wi Tribe and High Telecommunication telecom units, besides a 10-MHz block allocated to New Century Telecommunications.
The food and beverage giant is in talks with Telstra over a joint venture with the potential to shake up the Philippines telecom market.
But PLDT and Globe have argued that access to the scarce resource that is the 700-MHz band should not be reserved only to the company, noting that this is out of step with the global approach to allocating the band.
SMC's 700-MHz holdings are considered to be the main asset the company can use to compensate for its late entry to the mobile sector and the dominance of the incumbent operators. If Globe and PLDT succeed in their challenge the company faces losing this key differentiator.