Bam Aquino: We need 'four or five' telco players

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 4) The Philippines needs at least four or five Internet providers to drive down prices, Senator Bam Aquino said Thursday.

"What we want to see is not just one more telco player. We need at least four or five," Aquino told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"The more, the merrier. The more competitors you have, the lower the prices will be, the higher the quality is," he added.

Even as social media is diely used in the country, the Philippines has one of the slowest Internet speeds in the world. Two major networks, PLDT and Globe Telecom, dominate the industry.

At President Rodrigo Duterte's invitation, China offered a third spot to China Telecom. Under the law, a foreign company may only own up to 40 percent of a company, the rest is Filipino.

Duterte wanted the new telco player to be operating by the first quarter of this year. However, Trade Secretary Mon Lopez said in November that it would likely take "six months to one year" before companies could complete proposals, and market and feasibility studies.

Related: Duterte: Third telco provider must be in by March 2018

Aquino agreed with the need for new players, but added the country should also be open to possibly interested players from other countries such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

"Tama tong paghikayat ng player sa ibang bansa [It's right to invite a player from another country], but I don't think we should be satisfied with just one," he said.


Aquino authored Senate Bill 171, or the "Open Access in Data Transmission Act of 2016," which provides additional powers to the National Telecommunications Commission and promotes fair competition in telecommunication.

The counterpart House Bill 6557 was passed and transmitted to the Senate in November last year.

Aquino said the law was intended to "open up the sector for more players [and] make it easier for them to transact in the Philippines."

"Even if you invite them, pagdating nila dito [when they arrive], they still need 50 signatures just to get anything done, two years before they can import any of their equipment into the Philippines," said Aquino.

"All of this lack of ease of doing business will stop them from operating right away," he added.

Over a session on Facebook Live, Aquino said he is hoping the measure will be passed by February.