Press Release
July 25, 2018

Take Cue from President's SONA Message, Fast Track Telco Improvement - Pimentel

"Now that the President has declared very adamantly in his SONA that improvement of telecoms services is a top government priority, the lead agencies should take their cue and fast track the rules on the entry of a third telco player."

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who chairs the Senate's Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship Committee, made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in his State of the Nation Address last July 23 that the administration remained firm in its resolve to ensure that the country's telecommunication services are "reliable, inexpensive, and secure."

Just last June, Pimentel criticized the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the multi-agency Oversight Committee for the Entry of a New Major Player in the Public Telecommunications Market over the languid pace with which the long-delayed rules on the assignment of radio frequencies were being formulated.

These frequencies would be needed by a new entrant to the domestic telco market.

The Senator noted that no concrete and positive steps had been taken by the concerned government agencies since he called their attention last month.

"The President's SONA message is a strong wake-up call. Or should the agencies just treat it like one of those dropped calls or lost text messages that telco consumers experience every day? Would the DICT and the oversight committee say Message Not Sent Mr. President?" the lawmaker remarked.

"Telecommunications is just as potent an economic driver as physical infrastructure. It's as important as sound economic policy. The President knows this, that's why he reiterated the need for a robust telecom industry, with emphasis on efficiency and low cost," the senator noted.

Government statistics show an estimated 73 million cellphone users in the country today, with the figure ballooning by another 3 million by 2020.

Furthermore, Filipinos spend an average per day of 3.2 hours online using cellphones and 5.2 hours on other mobile devices and desktop PCs.

Despite widespread mobile usage, the Philippines lags behind major ASEAN neighbors Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia in terms of Internet and 4G LTE speeds while charging one of the highest usage rates in the region.

Consumers and experts alike attribute the slow and expensive mobile service to the country's telco duopoly.

"We need quicker and cheaper telco service, and we need it now. If no less than the President says so, that's the time to act fast," Pimentel said.

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