Japan-based NTT Docomo, the parent company of Docomo Pacific Inc., has agreed to buy the parent firm of Marianas Cable Vision Broadband in the CNMI and Guam for an undisclosed amount, a move that could help change the CNMI's telecommunications landscape.
Docomo Pacific-Saipan general manager James Nelson and MCV director of CNMI operations Bryan Pitt, in separate interviews yesterday, confirmed the signing of an “intent to purchase agreement” which still requires the approval of federal and local regulatory agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission.
Pitt said that agreement was signed on Wednesday.
“You have here a convergence of two telecommunications companies. Hopefully the regulatory agencies such as FCC and the Public Utilities Commission will approve this agreement. Only then we could talk about different plans and packages or services,” Pitt told Saipan Tribune in an interview at his office, adding that they don't expect changes until the agreement gets clearance from regulatory agencies.
MCV has 35 employees on Saipan, Pitt said.
Nelson, for his part, said while waiting for FCC and PUC's approvals, it will be business as usual at Docomo Pacific and MCV.
He said they're hoping the deal would get the green light by the end of the year.
Rep. Frank Dela Cruz (R-Saipan), chair of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation's Public Utilities and Infrastructure Committee, said the benefits of this purchase deal, if approved, remain to be seen but he's hoping that MCV customers will receive better services.
“I hope Docomo's purchase will improve MCV's services to its customers and lower the cost of these services. They're very costly,” said Dela Cruz.
Docomo and MCV's signing of an intent to purchase agreement comes at a time when GTA TeleGuam's application to operate in the CNMI remains pending, giving competition to the islands' telecom giant IT&E. GTA submitted its initial application to PUC in March 2011.
Dela Cruz, a member of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, hopes that PUC can soon begin to review not only the Docomo-MCV purchase agreement but also GTA TeleGuam Holdings' application so it can begin operations in the CNMI.
“Competition is always good because would always have a choice with the kind of services available. We are a U.S. soil yet some of the services are three, four times more expensive than those in the U.S., and you also think we're in the 21st century but if you look at the services available here, you'd think we're behind,” he added.
Six years ago, NTT Docomo bought SaipanCell, GuamCell, and Hafa Tel.
MCV, meanwhile, was bought by New York-based investment firm Seaport Capital from United Micronesia Development Association or UMDA in 2005.