SENATE President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday expressed his strong support for Malacañang’s move to boost the country’s Internet infrastructure and Internet speed by inviting a third player.
Reportedly, Malacañang announced that the President has directed the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) to fast-track the entry of a third telecommunications company into the country.
“A third telecommunications firm is exactly what our country needs to end a telco duopoly mired in mediocrity,” Pimentel said adding that the lack of competition has allowed the present Internet providers to hold the Filipino consumer hostage to poor communications and data services.
Pimentel praised the President for his decisive action and show of political will in addressing a long standing problem of the country.
“Our people need fast, stable Internet speeds that are reasonably priced. Bringing in a new competitor helps achieve that,” Pimentel said.
At a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that during bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, President Rodrigo Duterte “offered to the People’s Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecommunications carrier in the country.”
The Presidential spokesperson said that all applications will be filed and acted upon directly by the OES, per the President’s instructions.
Roque added that the government will take 45 days to determine which offer will be taken. As foreign-owned companies, the telco proposals will have to be consistent with the constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership of companies in the Philippines to 40%.
Pimentel, who had previously put forward proposals to encourage competition between the country’s two major telecommunications firms, said that adding a third player to the Philippine telecommunications market “is the only way to force the two major local telco companies to improve their services.”
Pimentel said that the absence of alternatives has numbed the market on the reality of poor network coverage, dropped calls, disappearing loads, lost text messages, and slow data or internet speeds.
“Our countrymen deserve better,” stressed the Senate chief.
Earlier this year the Senate Chief urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to direct the country’s telcos to adopt Mobile Number Portabilty (MNP) to spur competition among the Philippines’ telecoms giants.
MNP is a feature that allows mobile phone subscribers to retain their mobile phone numbers even if they switch to a different carrier.