PLDT Inc. to spend more than USD996m next year amid competition threat

21 Dec 2017

The threat of imminent competition seems to have galvanised Philippine telecoms giant PLDT Inc. into action, with the news that the company now plans to invest more than PHP50 billion (USD996 million) in 2018 to improve its mobile and fixed broadband networks. PLDT chairman and president Manuel Pangilinan told reporters this week that the company will announce what he terms ‘a historic high in capex next year’, which will be ‘north of PHP50 billion’.

PLDT and rival Globe Telecom currently control the country’s telecoms market, but their poor record of performance in terms of service quality, service availability and pricey end-user fees has drawn the ire of controversial president Rodrigo Duterte who is determined to break up their de facto duopoly by fast-tracking a new third operator with Chinese backing to the market as early as Q1 2018. When asked about the possible entry of a third player, Pangilinan told reporters: ‘We’re waiting for that to happen and trying to get ready in case it happens in the first quarter because that’s what the president wants to happen.’

As reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this week President Duterte said he wants the country’s new third telco to begin operations as soon as Q1 2018, and to that end has ordered the swift approval of its licence application to fast-track its smooth passage to market. Last month, the Philippines granted China the ‘privilege’ of entering the market to challenge PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, and with Beijing having pre-selected China Telecom to invest in the Philippines, Duterte has reportedly issued orders to the relevant agencies and regulatory bodies to ‘ensure the third telecom provider will be up and running by about the first quarter of 2018’. In response to a question on what China Telecom’s plan may be, Pangilinan said: ‘It’s difficult to predict what the China telco wishes to do here. There are some people saying they are going to focus on fixed line broadband. Until it happens, we don’t know.’