China Telecom named 3rd main telco player
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) yesterday identified the Chinese firm that would become the third player in the country’s telecommunication industry.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said China Telecom would invest in the Philippines and this development would improve internet service in the country. 

“The Chinese government has selected a company that will invest in the telco (industry) of our country. It is China Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in China,” Andanar said over dzBB.  

In its website, China Telecom described itself as “a large-scale and leading integrated information service operator in the world, providing wireline and mobile telecommunications services, Internet access services, information services and other value-added telecommunications services primarily in the People’s Republic of China.”

The company claimed to have about 215 million wireline broadband subscribers as of the end of 2016.

Last month, Duterte asked China to invest in the Philippines’ telecommunication industry, believing it would improve internet speed in the country. The Philippine leader issued the invitation during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has said the entry of a Chinese investor would break the “duopoly” in the telecommunication industry, whose players are PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.

Andanar said China Telecom has to find a local partner since the Constitution limits foreign ownership of a public utility to 40 percent.

“The government is fast-tracking this because our countrymen are already irritated by dropped calls and slow internet. This is the reason why the President opened the doors to a third player,” Andanar said. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, on the other hand, said the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act would encourage entry of new players and stimulate healthy competition within the telecommunications industry. 

Gatchalian, principal author of Senate Bill 1237 or the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act, said with one new telco coming into play, they will not have difficulty attracting customers as they could bring their existing phone numbers to transfer to the new entrants.

The measure aims to provide convenient movement of mobile subscribers from one service provider to another while retaining their existing cellphone numbers, whether prepaid or postpaid. 

“This flawless subscriber-transfer among telco players is seen to generate improved services with better deals to offer which will greatly benefit consumers,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian stressed the need to provide mobile portability completely free of charge to subscribers.

He said imposing an added cost “has always been a barrier to any competition.”

Gatchalian suggested the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should be given the responsibility to determine guidelines on whether the costs will be absorbed by the recipient provider, or the new service provider of the mobile subscriber.

“The regulator and the policymaker, we are in harmony to make it free. But we will include a provision in the law to let the NTC determine who will absorb the costs, if ever. I think that should be left with the regulator to determine. It is too fluid to include in the law, but we will give the NTC flexibility to determine... but from a consumer’s standpoint, it will be free,” he said.  

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