ICT Davao welcomes entry of new telco firm

THE Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council of Davao sees entry of a third telecommunications player a necessity to up the game in the Philippine telecoms market.

The council, which serves as the umbrella organization of all information and communication technology groups in Davao City, in a statement said that they support the Duterte administration’s thrust to open up the country’s telecoms market to a third player.

Last month, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said China Telecom might enter the Philippines in the first quarter of 2018, following the President's directive to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to approve its application.

ICT Davao president Samuel Matunog said the entry of a third serious and viable telecom player is a good beginning to solve the poor broadband penetration, slow and expensive service looming the industry.

“It will drastically alter the status quo—for the better. It will bring the costs of government broadband down, and enable 'last mile' and VAS players a wider choice of telecom providers to connect every Filipino to the world wide web,” he said.

The council mentioned that national security issues raised against the possible entry of China Telecom is not an issue as policy makers will have built-in measures to improve cybersecurity in the country.

“The real challenge is, whether China Telecom or any other telecom player finds their entry as viable investment opportunities. Even more pressing is, whether the government can provide a level playing field to entice other telecom and broadband players—“last mile” and VAS providers, among others—to join the game. And there are many places to start,” ICT Davao said.

With this established, the council calls upon the Supreme Court to reinforce the resolve of the Duterte administration by acting swiftly on the reported appeal of the Philippine Competition Commission on the sale of SMC telecoms assets to PLDT and Globe.

The council also calls on Congress to act swiftly, as fast as it resolved the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train), on pending bills to level the telecom playing field.

Moreover, the ICT Davao urged the government to look into the recommendations of the Davao Regional Development Plan for 2017-2022 on how the IT-BPM industry may be revitalized, and the recommendations of the Better Broadband Alliance on how to further strengthen the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10929, otherwise known as the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.”

Meanwhile, Roque on Wednesday, January 3, during a Malacañang press briefing said that if China Telecom will not enter the Philippine market because of some business limitations, the government is open to other foreign-based telecom firms.

"If, for any reason this is not acceptable to China Telecom, then we have no choice. We gave China the option but if this is not acceptable to it, unfortunately we will have to look for other players because we will have to honor what the constitution provides," he said.

Based on the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipinos must own 60 percent of a telecommunication company, with foreign ownership limited to 40 percent.
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