While the companies involved tend not to point it out, it is rather plain to see that the telecommunications market in the Philippines is in the midst of a duopoly, where users of phones have choices that really only fall into two camps, that of Globe and that of PLDT/Smart. The government has been hoping to break that tug of war into a more healthy competition by pushing for the entry of a “third telco”, whether local or international. Bids have been taken for this plum position several months back, with some situation updates at least once a month. Now, the waiting is almost over.
CNN Philippines reports that by early November, the government will be ready to declare the official third telephone company of the Philippines to break up the status quo between PLDT and Globe. Acting Cabinet Secretary Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) made the pronouncement this Monday, October 22, on a senate committee hearing with regards to the final choosing of the third telco. “On November 7, we will have a provisional new major player, barring any decision from the court,” Sec. Rio declared.
With the search for the third wheel in the Globe-PLDT contest starting to wind down, complications have begun to pop up which would seemingly delay the decision on what will be Telco 3. In particular, bidder NOW Telecom, apparently upset at not being selected, has taken the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to court, insinuating that the telco search doubled money-making scheme” due to the stringent financial requirements on potential bidding telecom companies. Its filing of a temporary restraining order on the other hand was thrown own by a Manila court. “We are on track in fulfilling President Duterte’s desired timeline,” noted Sec. Rio, “which is to have NMP (new major player) by November this year.”
In the last stretch of the third telco search, eight companies, three of them foreign, gained congressional franchise and put forth P1 million each in bid documents to make their cases for putting up a real fight against the telecom duopoly. The bidders will be analyzed by automated software to check each operator’s reach and speed commitment against PLDT and Globe. Even when selected, the winning third telco can still be replaced by the second-place bidder if it cannot organize its operations effectively. The Congress expects to announce the winning bid this coming November 7.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News