Solon: 3RD telco to benefit Pinoys in long haul

November 12, 2018

BREAKING the duopoly of Globe Telecom and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)/Smart Communications Inc. in the telecommunications industry through the selection of a third player in this sector would benefit in the long haul Filipino subscribers reeling from costly, yet subpar, mobile phone services, Camarines Sur Rep.  LRay Villafuerte said yesterday.

Whether the government ultimately selects provisional third major player Mislatel Consortium, or either of the two other appealing bidders - Sears Telecom or PT&T - Villafuerte said both PLDT and Globe are likely to incur deep cash dents in the face of likely fierce competition, which would hereon prompt them to improve their telco services in the hope of keeping their now-threatened market shares.

Mislatel, composed of the Davao-based Udenna Corporation, Chelsea Logistics Holdings, China Telecommunications and the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Corporation, was named the provisional new major player (NMP) in the Philippines’ telecom sector.

Sears and PT&T, which were both disqualified from the bidding, have separately filed motions for reconsideration (MRs) questioning the selection by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of the Mislatel consortium.  They both said their bid documents should be accepted to compete with Mislatel.

“Regardless of which company is finally selected as the NMP, it would now be imperative for the two existing telcos to shell out a bigger capex (capital expenditure) as the third player is expected to present real competition by offering faster Internet while engaging its entrenched competitors in a price war in order to grab a sizable share of the country’s over 100 million subscriber-base,” said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte dismissed concerns over Mislatel becoming a national security risk because of the presence of a foreign partner, as he pointed out that even PLDT/Smart has partnered with the Japan-based NTT Communications Corp. while Globe has teamed up with Singapore-based Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel).

He  has long been urging the NTC to crack the whip on these two telcos for their poor yet expensive services.

Citing a recent Ookla report, Villafuerte said the Philippines’ household download speed is at 3.64 megabit per second (Mbps), the second lowest among Asian countries in the Ookla consumer download index and faster only than Afghanistan’s 2.52 Mbps rate.

As for upload speed, he said the same report placed the Philippines at No.  178 among 202 countries with an average speed of 1.53 Mbps, or way below the global average of 10.59 Mbps   
Local cost per Mbps is also one of the highest at $18.18 versus the global average of $5.21, bared the same report.

He has filed House Bill (HB) No.  4695 which seeks to legislate minimum quality standards for mobile telephone services.

The measure also aims to penalize telcos that are guilty of “horrendous” complaints by subscribers, such as poor network signals, overcharging, interrupted or dropped voice calls, vanishing prepaid loads and the surge of spam messages.

Villafuerte also sought to require the NTC to come up with a comprehensive and efficient system for subscribers to report their complaints of substandard services by their respective Telco providers.

HB No. 4695 aims to regulate prices, require the proper detailed billing of prepaid and postpaid subscriptions.