Duterte to telcos: Shape up, or else…
President Duterte threatened to open the local telecommunications industry to Chinese competitors if the country’s mobile phone duopoly—
PLDT-Smart Communications of Manuel V. Pangilinan and Globe Telecom of the Ayala Group—fails to improve its atrocious services.
In a speech in Davao City, Mr. Duterte said he shared the frustration of millions of mobile phone users in the Philippines, who complain of poor phone service and slow internet speeds.
Mr. Duterte said oftentimes he would “wait until the next day before I get a reply” to his text messages.
“I’m just suffering all of this but if you cannot do it right, you wait, I’m going to China and I’ll open everything for competition,” said President Duterte. He is scheduled to visit China from October 18 to 21.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that PLDT-Smart and Globe should take seriously the President’s warning because “he talks like that only when he is really frustrated.”
Last May, San Miguel Corp. abandoned its plan to emerge as the third player to break the telecommunication duopoly when it sold its cell sites and a 700-Megahertz spectrum to PLDT-Smart and Globe. This is a type of low-band frequency with an ability to cover wide spaces and penetrate walls at a lower cost.
The Philippine Competition Commission sought to investigate the deal but it was blocked by the Court of Appeals.
Andanar said Malacanang would wait how PLDT-Smart and Globe would deploy San Miguel’s assets to improve services.
But if they fail to shape up, Andanar said the Department of Information and Communications Technology can put up a state-owned telecommunications firm to compete with them and build cellular sites in areas not currently served. They can also tap a third player to increase the competition.
“We want to have a vibrant competition and end the two-player competition which is why it is called a duopoly,” said Andanar.
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