What’s the hold-up? Koko Pimentel says delaying entry of Smart-Globe duopoly kiler is bad for business
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday scored the delays in government efforts to bring in a third telecommunications player in the country, saying the delays “are sending a terrible signal to both the public and the business sector.”
“Go on social media or talk to the man on the street, the complaints are the same regardless of the telco provider: weak signal, disappearing loads, and slow data speeds. Consumers are being held captive by the absence of alternatives,” he added.
The delay was reportedly caused by the failure of the Oversight Committee for the Entry of a New Major Player in the Public Telecommunications Market to approve the terms of reference (TOR) for the selection and assignment of radio frequencies for the new telco.
The oversight committee, composed of representatives from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Finance, Office of the Executive Secretary and National Security Adviser, was created by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on April 6 through Administrative Order No. 11.
President Duterte had earlier said the entry of a third player in the telco industry “is a matter of paramount national interest” that had to be undertaken “in an integrated and transparent manner.”
“The failure of the Oversight Committee to finalize the TOR over two months after it was formed is extremely disappointing given the pressing need to break the telecommunications duopoly, encourage competition in the industry and improve services for the millions of Filipinos who use mobile phones,” Pimentel said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship also expressed concern that the business community might also get discouraged by the pace at which the agencies involved were proceeding with the drafting of the TOR.
He said that this is more so especially in light of the government’s commitment to make it easier for investors to do business in the country as reflected in the passage of RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business law.
“What kind of message does it send to the business sector when the government agencies involved in an urgent initiative such as this cannot get on the same page? Our country is like a restaurant that has a sign that says it is open for business, but the chefs have yet to decide on what to serve,” Pimentel said.
The president of the ruling PDP party urged the DICT and other members of the oversight panel to “get their acts together” to hasten the entry of a third telco player.
“I understand that members of the Oversight Committee have different perspectives with regard to the issues involved in the TOR, but it is the DICT’s responsibility, as chair of the body, to reconcile these issues and work with its co-members to come up with guidelines that will incentivize the entry of a new telco player while protecting the interests of consumers,” he said.
“Two months to finalize a TOR is too long. The Oversight Committee should get things moving because the sooner a third telco player comes in, the better it will be for the consumer,” Pimentel said. (PNA)