By Butch Fernandez, October 22 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer

Senators are set to review today (Monday) the process for selecting a third major telecommunications provider billed to break up the Smart-Globe duopoly.

Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Public Services Committee, confirmed over the weekend the panel is set to convene an initial hearing to get updates on the “status of talks” for the entry, as well as the process of selecting the third telco.

Among those reported as “interested parties” looking to compete with the duopoly are: NOW Corp., Converge ICT Solutions and Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp.

The “explanatory” hearing, set to open at 10 a.m., was also convened to enable  senators to assess the need for remedial legislation in the wake of reports that the Philippines has one of the most expensive mobile and data rates, even as the country is ranked near the bottom in Internet speed.

Apart from the telco players, also called to update senators on ongoing talks for the entry of a third telco are Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr., National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Chairman Gamaliel Cordoba, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Emilio Aquino, Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia and Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.

In a news statement, Poe pointed out that the Senate panel, exercising oversight powers, will seek an appraisal of latest “developments surrounding the much-awaited entry of the country’s next telco player in anticipation of the reported award next month.”

The senator affirmed her committee’s determination to “play a major role in tackling the congressional franchise of the applicant.”

She stressed that the Philippines need to have “meaningful competition in public utilities like telecommunications that will translate to lower costs and better service.”

Apart from the interested telco players, also expected to appear at the Senate hearing are government regulators from the DICT and the NTC.