Business Leaders Want Open Field for Telco

November 28, 2017 News

Business leaders have lauded President Duterte’s push to break the “duopoly” in the country’s telecommunications industry, but pointed out this should not be limited to Chinese companies.

During his bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang two weeks ago, Duterte offered China the privilege to operate the third telco carrier in the country, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said earlier.

Duterte has long been calling for a third telco player in the Philippines so consumers can enjoy better mobile and internet service.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Guenter Taus told The STAR that the government should let market forces dictate which player is best suited to operate the third telco instead of limiting it to just one country.

“As President Duterte wants opening of the economy in general, why limit the essential third player in the much needed backbone mobile infrastructure to just one country? Aren’t we promoting a level playing field?” Taus said.

For Management Association of the Philippines national issues committee chair Perry Pe, the industry should be opened up to all qualified players.

“I believe in open and fair competition. It should be open to all qualified players once the new public utility law is passed, which will take out telecoms and others from the definition of what constitutes public utility,” Pe said.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines senior advisor John Forbes, meanwhile, said: “From the consumers’ viewpoint, the more telcos the better. Singapore has five telcos and Hong Kong a dozen. The Philippines, which once had five, should be open to more.”

China’s big three telecommunications companies are reportedly interested in entering the Philippine market, a move that would potentially put an end to the duopoly that has been a constant concern among many consumers, according to International Chamber of Commerce Philippines founding chairman and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman emeritus Francis Chua.

China’s telecom market is currently served by three state-run operators, namely China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd. All three companies are part of the world’s 25 biggest telecom companies listed by Forbes in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is looking to identify the possible third and fourth telco players and make frequencies available for them within the year.

Apart from identifying the new telco players, the DICT expects to start the bidding process for the free WiFi access points in the country, start an agreement for the lease of common towers, as well as sign an agreement with the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) for the use of the latter’s fiber optic cable.

DICT officer-in-charge head Eliseo Rio Jr. said in social media post yesterday the DICT would have identified the possible third and even fourth players and have frequencies available to them to effectively compete before the end of the year.

For the new telco players, he said via text message, the government would make sure the present limitations on foreign ownership provided by the Constitution are followed.

“DICT will try to identify Filipino telcos who would be interested to be the third player, with a foreign partner with up to 40 percent ownership,” he said.

As for the unassigned frequencies, he said “the government will come up with a beauty contest in determining who can best compete with the two giants, to the benefit of the consumers.”

Source: Philippine Star(