Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Filipino frustration as launch of third telco hit by new delays

By Chris Kelly, Total Telecom
Wednesday 30 May 18

President Duterte has said that the launch of a third telco in the Southeast Asian nation is critical to the country's digital future

Frustration is growing in The Philippines as the launch of the country's hotly anticipated third telco hit further delays this week. The Philippines Daily Enquirer reports that Eliseo Rio Jr, acting secretary of the Department of Communications Technology, confirmed that draft rules on the selection process had yet to be approved by a government led committee…

Frustration is growing in The Philippines as the launch of the country's hotly anticipated third telco hit further delays this week.

The Philippines Daily Enquirer reports that Eliseo Rio Jr, acting secretary of the Department of Communications Technology, confirmed that draft rules on the selection process had yet to be approved by a government led committee.

President Duterte has said that a third telco is essential to add competition to The Philippines stagnating telecoms duopoly.

President Duterte had said that he wanted the country's third telco to be up and running – and delivering services – by the end of the first quarter of 2018. With that deadline long since passed, The Filipino government is becoming increasingly impatient with the situation.

That impatience is being shared by private investors who are in line to form part of the consortium that will run the third telco.

 Mel Velarde, CEO of Now Corp, was quoted by The Daily Enquirer as saying that the company was growing impatient with the situation.

“We will no longer allow ourselves to wait any longer. We demand our 2G, 3G and 4G frequencies,” he said.

“We will exhaust all legal and moral means to accomplish these goals for our public owners.”

While the government and industry players grow increasingly frustrated with the situation, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for Filipino consumers.

A recent report published by OpenSignal has revealed that both Globe and Smart (The Philippines' two existing telcos) saw rapid growth in their overall network speeds and 4G availability rates.

"Both Globe and Smart saw their 4G speeds increase in our tests over the last year, but those increases were modest (under 20% for both operators) compared to the growth they both saw in overall speed. So what produced that surge? Both operators were busy expanding the reach of their LTE services last year. Their 4G availability scores all increased considerably, which means that 4G smartphone owners were able to latch onto faster LTE connections more often" said Kevin Fitchard, lead analyst at OpenSignal, in a blog post this week. 

The report showed that in March 2017 Smart had 4G availability of just 40 per cent, and Globe 55 per cent. However, by March 2018, those scores had risen to 60 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

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