Telco Challenger
“The President has instructed the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) and National Telecommunications Commission to ensure that the 3rd telecom provider will be up and about by the first quarter of 2018.”

These words uttered by presidential spokesman Harry Roque on December 19[1] may have flown past you in the time before Christmas.

However, they send a very important signal. The addition of another player to stir up the telecom market in the Philippines seems closer than ever. The two telco giants, PLDT and Globe, have had a strong grip on the entire mobile market for many years. A market shakeup has been hoping for a long time, though skeptics may point out the failure of comparable projects in the past[2]. Despite these past missteps, as of now, it looks like the addition of another major player is imminent.

Both PLDT and Globe have been implementing strategies to drive their growth and strengthen their market positions. Of course, they seek to gain an edge on each other, but they too know that it won’t be for long until they face a new competitor. PLDT is spending at record levels[3], seeking to expand and improve its infrastructure for mobile networks. This would place them as a premier provider in terms of the range and serviceability of modern mobile internet networks.

Read more: List of PLDT Fibr, DSL, and Home Wifi Plans

Globe, on the other hand, has chosen to divest from their tower assets[4]. This strategy hints strongly towards a growing expectancy of another player in the market. This will allow third parties to invest in and maintain the infrastructure. This will make it easier for a competitor to join the market. However, having divested Globe can prepare now by focusing its investments on strengthening their position as a customer service provider. This will make them well prepared.

Why Adding Another Telco Provider is Important

This behavior by PLDT and Globe is exactly what everybody is hoping for – movement in the market. Adding a competitor forces the top two dogs to react. Confronted with the unknown, they have to come up with new ideas and solutions. Otherwise, they face losing their market share.

The Filipino telco market has much growth potential due to the size of the population, the constantly growing economy, and the Filipinos’ thirst for mobile internet and telecommunications. However, with the market so far behind comparable markets, it shows us that there are many inefficiencies and much room for improvement.

A novel competitor will bring in new, fresh ideas to the market. Nobody that decides to confront two dominant giants will do this without an aggressive strategy. The parties seeking to join the market want to disrupt. They want to shake things up by throwing in new services and solutions that others have failed to recognize.

Telco Market |
Instagram photo by @corrineemata

How Will It Affect the Market, and Importantly, Us?

With a third highly-motivated and aggressive competitor, all companies will be forced to ‘fight with their gloves off.’ They will do their very best to win new customers as well as steal customers from each other. The only way they will be able to do this is by both improving current services and offers, but also coming up with new ideas and solutions. They will have to convince us to choose them and their offers. We will be able to compare and if we don’t see anything that matches our needs and expectations we can just say no and pick a better offer. This will make us the benefactor of these improvements and services as they must fight to convince us of their newest and best products. But we must also stay hungry for better solutions and fuel the demand for improvements by comparing and not settling for anything less than the best.

Who Are the Prospects?

As of now, it is an open race, with companies from different countries competing for the slot. The second-largest Chinese telco “China Telecom Corp. Ltd.”, Japan’s “KDDI Corp.”, “LG Uplus Corp.” from South Korea as well as an unnamed Taiwanese bidder have shown interest. However, a truly unbiased competition between these appears unlikely. President Rodrigo Duterte has been very outspoken of favoring China Telecom Corp.[5] Ltd., but with a decision not to be made until as early as March that we will have to wait and see.

Until a new competitor arises we should do our best to stay informed on the newest topics. Furthermore, we must always lookout and compare to find an offer that is best for our needs. For one, this helps ensure that we spend our money wisely. Secondly, it helps direct the market towards what we want.

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