No fewer than five new, small local players have thrown their hats into the Filipino telecoms ring, after their applications were approved by Congress and entered into law on 30 June 2016. A report from Rappler lists the newcomers as: Avocado Broadband Telecoms (Republic Act No. 10895), Ama Telecommunications (RA No. 10897), Infinivan (RA No. 10898), Metro Connections and Telecom (RA No. 10902), and Megamanila Telecom (RA No. 10903). It is understood that all five firms have been awarded licences (i.e. franchises) ‘to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain telecommunications systems in the Philippines’.
The first named company Avocado Broadband was reportedly established by a group of cable operators in Luzon which plan to use their cable networks ‘to provide services to the countryside’, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said on his official Facebook page. The paper notes that according to SEC filings of Avocado Broadband, former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr is the chairman of the board. Meanwhile, Infinivan is understood to be a company engaged ‘in the business of constructing, installing, establishing, acquiring, leasing, and operating wire/wireless networks, stations, and services in the Philippines and other countries’. Little is known about the other three firms.
The Senator says that the move to support newer and smaller players, and encouraging them to compete with the two heavyweights – PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom – should hopefully push the quality of internet services up while driving down prices. His enthusiasm was shared by Winthrop Yu, chairman of the Philippine chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC), who suggested that new entrants ‘will be good for the sector, for business development, and for consumers’. Concerns exist, however, as to how much frequency spectrum has been given to the newcomers and whether they have the financial clout to take on the ‘big two’.