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Senators expect third telco by February.

SENATORS sitting in the Committee on Public Services expect the entry 'early next year' of a third telecommunication (telco) provider seen to compete with the Smart-Globe duopoly.

'The third telco is expected to bring down rates by early next year,' Sen. Grace Poe, committee chairman, told reporters on Monday. This developed after State regulators called to the hearing also assured the committee 'competition will benefit telco users.' Sen. Francis G. Escudero suggested the enabling legislation being crafted by the Poe committee could include a provision that telcos 'should go public' at 30 percent in five years.

Interviewed after presiding over the committee hearing on Monday to consider filing legislation on the matter, Poe said: 'We saw the Department of Information and Communications Technology's [DICT] commitment to roll out the third telco.'

'We expect cheaper rates,' she said, adding 'the rates should be equal.' During the hearing, the Senate panel was also assured the selection of a third telco would 'be objective, as this will be done by computer.' She added, 'The algorithim will determine who is most qualified.'

Among the requirements being lined up is '10 years of national experience' in running a telco.

'It needs to be experienced,' Poe said, adding the third telco would be allowed to tap a foreign partner with 40 percent. Escudero said the enabling legislation for the entry of a third telco should include a provision setting a 90-day deadline to submit all requirements.

'We are looking at a P150-million investment. In five to nine months, they can take subscribers,' Escudero told reporters. 'We would like to see developments...we expect a new telco within the first quarter of next year, by February.' Poe indicated she is relying on the commitments given to the Senate committee by NTC and DICT that the government is on track to pick a third telco, recalling that President Duterte himself acknowledged getting a third telco will give people a choice on who could render better service at less cost.

Sharing concerns aired by Escudero that Smart-Globe's sharing cell towers may create 'an oligopoly,' Poe asserted that whoever is capable of putting up cell towers should be allowed to do so, as long as it abides by regulations to 'break up a monopoly.'

'If there are several cell towers, these would improve our signal. So we should allow all telcos to have access to them and the payment for renting the tower should be the same for all. The rate should not be lower for one and higher for another. There is really something wrong if it's a monopoly.'

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Oct 23, 2018
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