tell_it_to_sunstar: Preferential treatment of 3rd telco player

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to give the country’s third telecommunications player the best possible preferential treatment is “absolutely justified” to give Filipinos access to faster and cheaper Internet connection speeds.

We have to enable the new entrant to quickly roll out its network for the benefit of consumers, who for years have had no choice but to endure the inadequate and costly Internet services being supplied by the two players.

The State, in going out of its way to accommodate the third player, is in fact merely fulfilling its duty to foster stronger and freer market competition.

Malacañang has ordered all agencies--from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) down to local governments--to expedite the grant of all licenses and permits needed by the new entrant. Otherwise, they risk incurring the President’s wrath.

Without the President’s directive, the third player would face numerous hurdles, including potential delays in securing licenses and regulatory approvals to form the new telecommunications company.

All told, the new entrant may have to spend up to P125 billion over the next three years to be in a position to effectively compete with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc., according to market analysts.

Having real competition in three years, or before the President’s term ends in 2022, is definitely better than having no foreseeable competition at all.

The preferential treatment is expected to extend to the fourth, fifth and sixth players, considering that the President had earlier indicated that he wants the market to eventually have up to six participants.

I have been batting for the reclassification of internet access as a “basic telecommunications service” so that the NTC may compel suppliers to provide rising connection speeds under pain of severe punitive fines.

Under House Bill 5337, I want the NTC empowered to regulate both the quality and the cost of internet access by tagging it a basic service.

At present, internet access is treated as a “value-added service” rather than a basic service. Thus, suppliers are relatively free to provide the service on their own terms. -- Rep. Luis N. Campos Jr. of Makati City
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