Duterte warns telcos: Shape up or face foreign competition

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte has a stern warning to telecommunications companies (telcos) — provide faster Internet service or foreign investors will be allowed to do the job.

Duterte said on Sunday (May 22) that opening the country for telcos competition would bring down prices and improve services.

The incoming president, however, failed to say how he planned to do this, as the Constitution set a cap on foreigners owning a company to 40%.

It's a threat Duterte had consistently on what he called a cartel that controlled prices at the expense of consumers.

The Philippines has one of the slowest Internet speeds in the world.

In Asia, the country is second to last, just better than the insurgency-ridden Afghanistan.

Ironically, the service is also one of the world's most expensive — more than thrice the global average.

Recently, Australian telco Telstra was in negotiations for a joint venture with San Miguel Corp. (SMC) but the deal fell through.

Telco giant PLDT has vowed to improve services through a three-year network investment program.

"We support the call for faster Internet," Globe said in a statement. "In fact, Globe is at the forefront of building the much needed infrastructure nationwide to make Internet services easily accessible either through mobile or wireline. This is supported by heavy investments over the years to make sure the Philippines is at par with other countries in terms of technology use."

Globe Telecom, meanwhile, said it has been heavily investing in much needed Internet infrastructure.

"In terms of competition, Globe has long been a challenger brand having a long history of competing with a larger and more dominant market player. We welcome competition in a level playing field and under an environment that is supportive of business," according to a Globe statement.

Globe said it was also not threatened by competition from a larger and more dominant market player.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), however, says the incoming Duterte administration should also do its part — such as building more base stations and fiber optics.

Edgardo Cabarios of NTC said that the country needed infrastructure development specially in areas without connectivity.