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11月21日のまにら新聞から

Duterte to allow Chinese firm to break telecom duopoly

[ 654 words|2017.11.21|英字 (English) ]

President Rodrigo Duterte will allow a Chinese telecommunication firm to operate in the Philippines to break the duopoly and improve the services.

This as the Philippine government signed with an affiliate of Facebook a project entitled the “Luzon Bypass” of the Pacific Light Cable Network which will provide bandwidth of two terabits per second.

In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it was Duterte, during his bilateral meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits last week, who offered to Beijing the privilege to operate the third telecom’s carrier in the country.

"Well, the president said that China has the capital and the technology to provide efficient telecom service," Roque said when asked why Duterte open to China the door for another telecom firm to operate in the Philippines and not to other countries.

"With the number of subscribers that Chinese telecoms company have in China, there can be no doubt that they are amongst the biggest in the world. Consider also the proximity and the fact that we want to avail of as much economic advantage that we could arising from the renewed friendly ties with China," he added.

Currently, Manuel V. Pangilinan's Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., along with Smart Telecom and Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc., and Ayala-owned Globe Telecom Inc. are the two major telecommunication firms that are operating in the country.

With only two companies dominating the industry, the Philippines was considered as one of the countries lagging behind in terms of telecom and Internet services.

It could be recalled Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma complained in October during his visit here about the poor Internet service in the country.

Roque said China has yet to designate a company which will operate in the Philippines.

But he said with Duterte's seriousness to improve the telecom service in the country, he has instructed that all applications be filed and acted upon directly by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

As to Luzon Bypass project, he said the two terabits that it would provide is equivalent to the current capacity of the duopoly operators today.

Roque explained that the breaking of the duopoly could have been sooner if not to former Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, formerly connected with Globe Telecom before his appointment to government.

"This agreement with the subsidiary of Facebook should have been signed as early as December 2016. It was not signed by the former Secretary of the DICT. And this was one of the areas pinpointed by Cabinet investigators as an area of conflict of interest for the former Secretary of DICT," Roque said.

He said the special investigating committee reported that Salalima likewise may have prevented the earlier break up of the duopoly by delaying the use of satellites as viable option.

He said under Salalima's watch, the initial cost for a national broadband plan appeared excessive at P200 billion because the recommendation did not consider the contribution from the use of existing broadband providers such as the National Grid Corporation (NGCP), the National Transmission Corporation, fiber optic and the Philippine National Railway Communication project.

Under the same scheme being pushed by the former DICT chief, he said the NBP terrestrial backbone would still have left the duopoly with the right to connect the end users to the backbone even after the government would have spent already P77 billion.

Duterte forced Salalima to quit from his post in September due to conflict of interest.

"So the good news is, the consumers can look forward now to better telecommunications, not just in terms of cellular technology but also in terms of internet speed as well as access. This is the latest instance of the President proving that he has the political will to do what is necessary to benefit the Filipino people," Roque stressed. Celerina Monte/DMS