Business & Economy

Rody tells telcos: Shape up or face new competition

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DAVAO CITY - The two dominant telecommunication firms in the country better shape up and improve the speed of Internet download, one of the slowest in the world.

Otherwise, they will face competition from new players under a Duterte administration.

Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he would open the country to foreign telecommunication firms that could provide better service if the existing telcos would not do something to improve Internet connection and access.

“You improve the service or I will open the Philippines. All can come in,” Duterte said at a press briefing on Saturday night, May 21, in Davao City.

Citing the country’s energy sector as an example, he said telco service would remain poor and costs would always be high if a cartel was controlling the sector.

Duterte said that despite his lack of knowledge about technology, he knew that having a faster Internet speed would help accelerate development in the country, especially in areas outside Metro Manila.

“I will make it a public policy - the Internet connectivity,” Duterte said, adding that it should be faster and affordable.

With an average household download speed of 3.64 Mbps, the Philippines ranked 176th out of 202 countries, according to a study last year by Internet metrics provider Ookla.

The local download speed is eight times slower than the global average broadband download speed of 23.3 Mbps.

The Philippines has also earned the distinction of having the second-slowest Internet speed in Asia.

Among 22 countries in Asia, the Philippines has a download speed just a tad faster than that of bottom-dweller Afghanistan, according to Ookla.

Despite the slow speed, Internet service in the Philippines is expensive, $18.19 per Mbps compared with the average of $5.21 across the globe.

Besides citing the slow Internet speed, Duterte disclosed an unhappy experience with telco giants Globe and Smart.

The two firms incurred the ire of Duterte in 2012 when he was vice mayor of Davao City while his daughter was mayor after the two companies suddenly changed without notice their direct service in  911 that connected to the city’s emergency responders.

Duterte threatened to kick out the telcos from the city or withdraw his protection to their cellular phone towers from rebel attacks.

Communist rebels are known to blow up cellular towers unless Globe or Smart pay up. Inquirer.net

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