Roque: New telecom providers to come to PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Expect faster and more accessible internet soon, as new telecommunications companies will enter the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday.

"President Rodrigo Duterte offered to the People's Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecommunications carrier in the country," Roque said in a press briefing.

Duterte met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on November 15 for a bilateral meeting after the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

"The President said China has the capital and technology to provide efficient telecommunications service. They are among the biggest in the world," Roque said.

The telecommunications company from China that is invited as a third player will compete with the duopoly of Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc., he added. The Chinese company is not known yet.

On November 16, the Philippine government also partnered with an affiliate of social networking giant Facebook, for an additional Internet backbone known as the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. The Luzon Bypass will provide additional 2 terabyte bandwidth - equivalent to what is provided by Globe Telecom and PLDT, Roque said.

"Look forward to better telecommunications in terms of internet speed and access," Roque said.

The agreement with Facebook, the spokesperson said, should have been signed as early as 2016.

"It was not signed by the former secretary of the (Department of Information and Communications Technology), and this was one of the areas pinpointed by the cabinet investigators as an area of conflict of interest," Roque said.

In September, Duterte said he asked former DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima to resign after allegedly favoring a telecommunications company.

"It seems to me he was favoring a company. Tapos hindi ka makapasok. Ang gusto ko nga maging mura at 'yung interconnection, fast, mabilis," the President said in a September 29 interview.

[Translation: It seems to me that he was favoring a company. Then you can't enter. I want the internet connection here to become cheaper and faster.]

Salalima was formerly the chief legal counsel and senior advisor of Globe Telecom.

The President has been vocal in the state of the internet in the Philippines, saying the only way to improve internet speed is to introduce competition.

READ: Duterte says he asked DICT chief to resign

The Philippines ranked as one of the countries with the lowest Internet speeds, according to a report from a U.S.-based content delivery network.

READ: PH among lowest ranked countries in internet speed, availability - report