Amid the support for faster internet in the Philippines, as mandated by incoming President Duterte, with Globe & PLDT’s plans to improve the state of the Philippine internet connection, another significant development in the telecom war happened this morning: San Miguel Corporation (SMC) sold their telecommunications assets to the telecom industry leaders Globe Telecom & Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) Group worth $1.5 billion.
This deal includes the much-coveted 700 MHz frequency that is said to be cost-effective for telecoms’ deployment and has the highest capacity among frequencies available. Almost all of the frequency (ranging from 694 MHz to 790 MHz) was also owned by SMC for the country’s television broadcasting shift to digital and would have been used by the company to provide cheaper and better mobile internet service. Of all the countries in the world, only the Philippines and Thailand are set to utilize the 700 MHz frequency for telecommunications.
Doors are still open
But the deal has a catch. There are portions of the frequency in the deal which includes 700 MHz, 850 MHz, 2500 MHz, and 3500 MHz that will be returned to the government through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) by these two telcos to ensure a space for a possible entry of a third operator in the market. This acquisition can benefit the mobile networks’ cell site capacity, improved mobile data speeds & affordability of the services and can ease the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the state of the country’s internet connection.
Both PLDT & Globe have been criticized until now by many internet users here in the Philippines for offering expensive but slow and “unfairly” capped mobile & home broadband connection. SMC then, was the sole company in-control of the country’s 700 MHz frequency and was criticized by both telecommunications group as “anti-competitive”. With the combined efforts and policies of the government to ease the deployment of cell sites and infrastructure and the telecom companies’ moves to expand their network throughout the islands of the country, all of the mobile & home broadband consumers SHOULD experience a significant improvement in terms of internet connection in the future.
Bam Aquino condemns frequency acquisition, other developments
Sen. Bam Aquino blasts this move by SMC and wants a probe about this acquisition. With this development in the PH telecommunications industry, SMC’s attempt to create a third PH telco player could still be in the works because as what I’ve stated some frequencies will be returned to the government for the use of the possible third carrier, or it could not push through anymore. President-elect Duterte earlier said, if the telecommunications companies don’t shape up, he will let foreign telco players enter the market.
Both Globe & PLDT should take advantage of these frequencies to deliver the consumers the best internet connection possible, and not to take these pathways for internet connection improvement for granted. The local & national government also has a significant role of implementing srict protocols and rules, as well as a faster process by the LGU’s in order for a telco to deploy a cellular site. Lack of cell sites, especially in far-flung areas of the country is one of the cause of major slowdowns in mobile internet browsing due to cluttered sites thus resulting to a much slower browsing because we have lots of users connected under one cell site. On the recently concluded automated elections, the far-flung provinces had a difficulty in transmitting results to the transparency servers due to weak internet signal. Also, I hope that the portions of the frequency that are to be returned to the government should be sufficient and fair for the third operator to enter the PH market. Lastly, this acquisition should be all for the consumers instead of all for money. Other than that, deployment of fiber-to-the-home services throughout the country should also be prioritized because fixed, wired home broadband internet due to its stable connection and it is mostly used in business and startups. Improvement of the country’s internet connection could help not just the consumers, but business owners as well to ensure fast deployment of services and data gathering. We deserve a faster, reliable & affordable internet connection, and better support and after-sales service. After all, we are deemed as the “social media capital of the world”.