MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said the plan of state-run National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) to move into the telecommunications industry may need to be reviewed to ensure it will benefit consumers.
PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan explained that because TransCo could partner with a private firm, its plan would have to “undergo the competition lens.” (READ: How PH’s top antitrust official is guarding market competition)
Along with this, he also offered the PCC’s guidance in the process.
“We also have an advisory role… In some cases, especially working with other government agencies, we don’t have to wait for the formation of the joint venture. We can contribute, discuss, we can give advice,” Balisacan said.
“That’s what we also do in Congress, when they craft laws, franchises when it comes to improvement in efficiency of the sector,” he added.
While noting that the direction is still unclear, Balisacan underlined the importance of working together as the government would have a significant stake in the project.
“We don’t know yet whether the government will actually do it or will they bring the private sector in. As you know, joint ventures are covered by law. Since this is a government project… we need to work closely together,” he said.
Earlier this month, TransCo, which controls the cables that underpin the country’s power transmission system, said it plans to diversify into telecommunications and will ask Congress to amend its charter to allow it to do so.
TransCo President Melvin Matibag said they have received strong interest from 10 firms.
“They are offering to partner with us. They are local and foreign firms, mostly foreign from Japan, China, Indonesia, and [the] US,” Matibag said, adding that the plan is for TransCo to take the majority stake in any possible partnership.
“Right now, what I am thinking is we will not be a minority in this. We may just give the operations and management to them,” he added.
One such local firm is newly-revitalized Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (PT&T), which signified interest to lease its cables for broadband services.
The driving force, Matibag explained, is to allow for a 3rd player to provide more competition to Ayala-led Globe Telecom and Manuel Pangilinan’s PLDT. (READ: PH internet ‘no good’? Telcos, PCC react to Jack Ma)
The PCC, in fact, is embroiled in a legal battle with Globe and PLDT over their joint purchase of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets last year.
“Some experts in telco are saying that only the government can compete with the two telco giants. No one else can come in. So, if it’s government combined with a somebody that has the technical and financial capabilities to do it, then here comes a 3rd player,” Matibag said. – Rappler.com