Last year, it seemed as if the race to become the third telecom company in the Philippines was quite the little drama in the industry itself. It was, after all, a telecom firm getting government approval to become the one that will break up the existing two-company market established by PLDT-Smart and Globe Telecom for years. After months of vetting, it was eventually the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (MISLATEL) that got the OK, after rebranding itself as DITO Telecommunity. The new “third TELCO” would spend this year and the next setting up infrastructure nationwide ahead of its general launch; but before it can do that, a fourth TELCO just appeared.
CNN Philippines reports that just about two months since the approval of a third major TELCO to make the PLDT-Smart/Globe market more diverse, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has given a license to operate for a fourth player in that game. Unlike MISLATEL/DITO however, the awardee is an internet service provider that has been in business for over two decades. NOW Telecom now has approval to begin establishing cellular networks, a fact discovered when its parent firm made a disclosure at the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Established in 1992 as Infocom Communications Network, NOW Telecom had only just gotten its franchise renewed last 2018 by the 17th Congress, giving it 25 more years of operation. The NTC license to set up mobile network services for data, voice calls and text messaging to customers across the Philippines pretty much elevated the company into the fourth TELCO less than a year after the third one, all in accordance with one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promises to end the duopoly that has seen Filipino telecom users Ping-Pong back and forth between the more-established PLDT-Smart and the mobile giant Globe, with no real alternatives.
NOW Telecom President Rodolfo Pantoja would release an official statement this Monday, September 9, regarding the current state of their company and the time it would need to progress from broadband internet services to full-on telecommunications for mass consumption. “There is an insufficiency in telecommunications facilities that can effectively address the needs for day-to-day real time operations and at the same time provide disaster mitigation during times of emergencies,” Pantoja said. To that end they plan to collaborate with DITO Telecommunity, formerly MISLATEL and its “new TELCO” predecessor, to develop both mobile and 5G wireless broadband infrastructure. NOW also has a partnership with Singapore-based global fiber network supplier Hyalroute Group, via its local subsidiary Philippine Fiber Optic Cable Network (PFOCN).
The third TELCO, DITO, was established 2018 by Davao City business magnate and diplomat Dennis Uy of Udenna Corporation, and personal friend of President Duterte.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News