President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has extended an offer to China to become the country’s third telecoms operator in a bid to end the de facto duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, Reuters reports. A spokesman for the president’s office is quoted as saying that Duterte is determined to improve the domestic telecoms landscape, where data and voice services rank among Asia-Pacific’s slowest and most intermittent, and where the president has had to warn PLDT and Globe to ‘shape up’ or face new competition. President Duterte made the offer last week to visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, which Reuters notes is ‘the latest sign of his pursuit of closer political and economic ties’ with China, after years of territorial disputes and mistrust. In a media briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque set out the government’s plan to improve telecoms access: ‘The good news is consumers can look forward now to better telecommunications, not just in terms of cellular technology but also in terms of internet speed, as well as access.’ Whilst no specific Chinese company is in the frame to enter the market, Roque bullishly stated ‘the announcement is that telecoms duopoly is about to end’.
In 2007 ZTE Corp of China was awarded a USD330 million contract by the Philippines government to set up a broadband network linking state agencies, but the deal was subsequently annulled over allegations of corruption.