Lawmaker allays security fears over 3rd telco player

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

November 8, 2018, 4:31 pm

MANILA – A lawmaker on Thursday downplayed concerns of potential security risks with China Telecom as the foreign partner of the new and third telecommunications player in the country.

Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. also expressed optimism that the government’s selection of a third telecommunications player would help boost the country’s mobile Internet services.

“Risks are everywhere, but we have regulators precisely to manage those risks. Besides, both PLDT and Globe are already at least 40 percent owned by foreign entities,” Campos said.

“We are counting on the newcomer to compete brutally with the nation’s two dominant players in delivering faster mobile Internet connection speeds at a lower price,” he added.

Mislatel Consortium, a joint venture between Davao City-based holding company Udenna Corp. and China Telecom, provisionally won the bidding for the country's third major telecommunications player.

Mislatel Consortium won the selection process after undergoing a series of evaluations on their submitted documents, which demonstrated their technical and financial capability to deliver telco services in the country in competition with existing players PLDT and Globe Telecom.

“We are absolutely convinced that the consortium is in a solid position to compete with the two well-entrenched players in the market. The group has all the wherewithal needed,” Campos said.

He cited that Mislatel has committed to invest up to PHP257 billion over the next five years, and to deliver a minimum average broadband speed of 27 Megabits per second (Mbps) in its first year of operation and 55 Mbps by the fifth year.

He also noted that the third telco player expects to provide network coverage to 84.01 percent of the population by the fifth year.

Campos is pushing for a measure seeking to reclassify Internet access as a “basic telecommunications service” so that regulators can compel suppliers to provide higher connection speeds under the “pain of severe punitive fines.”

Under House of Representatives Bill No. 5337, the National Telecommunications shall be empowered to regulate both the quality and the cost of Internet access by tagging it a basic service.

At present, the Philippine Public Telecommunications Policy Law treats Internet access as a “value-added service” rather than a basic service. Thus, suppliers are free to provide the service on their own terms. (PNA)