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Telecommunications in the Philippines gets major boost

The role telecommunication service providers in the Philippines is becoming ever more vital because of the continuous need for information dissemination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the country hopes to add more capacity in telecommunications as it welcomes its third major player to the sector.

The telco entered the market by announcing that it will be providing free call and text as well as broadband services to 3000 front liners in ten areas in Visayas and Mindanao. This was made possible with the help of the local government units as a way of strengthening its commitment to nation-building and partnership with its citizens.

Building a network in just over a a year was extremely challenging and many were skeptical, especially as the pandemic came at a crucial juncture in the network roll-out. However just a few weeks before the commercial launch, the telco said that its services exceeded the required benchmarks of the first government-mandated audit.

The findings revealed an average speed of 85.9 Mbps for 4G and 507.5 Mbps for 5G with population coverage of more than 37%, important indicators that point to the company’s readiness to fulfil its mandate of bringing reliable connectivity. None the less, the telco acknowledged that there is more work to be done to make a significant difference in the country’s telecommunications sector.

Department of Information and Communication Technology’s (DICT) Secretary reiterated the importance of having the telecommunications industry to be at parity with the rest of the world, in terms of technology and a level, clean playing filed. He confirmed that the entry of the third telco through transparent and fair bidding has spurred an increase in investment and infrastructure spending in the telecom sector that, in the long term, will benefit the entire nation.

The National Telecommunications’ Commissioner (NTC) further emphasised that the successful launch of the third telco is an example of how cooperation, and active collaboration of government and private corporations, will be key to bring about true recovery headed by advancements in the realm of communications and connectivity.

The company confirmed that its services are no longer available for legacy networks 2G and 3G, and it will only work in 4G and 5G-ready phones. For those interested to switch but who do not want to change their numbers, the telco’s CTO said their system would be ready once the porting platform is already up by June.

The telco said that the rationale for their launch was to serve the underserved and to provide Filipinos with a better option, a wider choice. This was in line with the national thought-leadership that without the right ICT infrastructure and without real competition, the Philippines would not reach its full potential.

The entry of this new player signals the start of more robust competition among telcos, said antitrust body – the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). Its chairman was confident that as the competition runs its course it would result in competitive pricing and would raise the level of overall connectivity, quality and coverage in the country.

The antitrust chief added that the launch also opens the door for “policymakers to consider other reforms such as the easing of foreign equity restrictions, push for open access and common towers, and prevention of exclusivity arrangements in last-mile internet service.

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