‘Foreign carriers’ may be welcomed into Philippines, say reports

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Philippines government reported to be open to foreign competition to Globe Telecom and PLDT

The prospect of competition for Globe Telecom and PLDT in the Philippines is closer after reports that foreign carriers may be welcomed into the market.

Philippines newspaper The Star is reporting today that a number of companies are interested in the market, citing “several industry and government sources”. It named China Telecom and Telstra as two possibilities.

If true, for Telstra it would be a renewed move into the market more than a year after it abandoned a venture with local company San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which then sold its spectrum to Globe and PLDT.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is known to want a third competitor in the market. Only days ago Melvin Matibag, president of power grid company TransCo, said he wants congressional approval to turn the company into both "a transmission company and a telecommunications company”. Matibag said he wanted to target broadband coverage in underserved areas.

One of The Star’s sources suggested that it could be the government’s broadband projects that was interesting to potential foreign investors.

Arsenio Balisacan, chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), told the newspaper that a third player can be good for consumers because it would improve competition: “In general, in any industry, a third player will boost competition,” he said.

However, he did not comment specifically on the telecoms industry because Globe and PLDT has a court case pending with the PCC over the acquisition of SMC spectrum.