According to an unconfirmed report from the office of the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, China Telecom has been ‘selected’ to become the Philippines’ third nationwide telecommunications operator. Officials in the Southeast Asian country reportedly announced the plan on Sunday, as the government seeks to stir up competition to boost the Philippines’ poor performance where it comes to fixed line broadband and mobile deployments. China Telecom is China’s biggest fixed line network operator and third largest mobile services provider.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last month the president extended an offer to China to become the country’s third telecoms operator in a bid to end the de facto duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. A spokesman for the president’s office was quoted at the time as saying that Duterte is determined to improve the domestic telecoms landscape, where data and voice services rank among Asia-Pacific’s slowest and most intermittent, and where the president has had to warn PLDT and Globe to ‘shape up’ or face new competition. ‘The Chinese government selected China Telecom to invest in the Philippines upon invitation by President Duterte during the bilateral meeting on 16 November,’ said Eliseo Rio, secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Given that a Chinese investor would need to work in partnership with a local company, government is now looking at who will partner with the state-run China Telecom on a 60-40 basis, Rio added.
In a social media post Monday, Rio is said to have confirmed that the DICT and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had already started preparing the rules for a selection process, which he compared to a ‘beauty contest’. It is understood the guidelines will form the outline for the award of prized frequencies to allow a newcomer to challenge the big two. ‘We will make sure that it goes to an organisation with the financial and technical clout to really be able to compete and not merely be gobbled up by the duopoly,’ Rio said.