Incoming DICT chief expects more competition in telco industry

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Incoming Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy said the country's three telecommunications providers should expect more competition in the future.

Such scenario is possible as the government passed amendments in key legislations like the Public Services Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and Retail Liberalization Law, which could all attract more foreign investors into the country.

"I believe so. They should expect that," he told CNN Philippines when asked if these policy changes could mean more competition for existing telco firms.

"The synergy of all this legislation and with the availability of this kind of technology is actually the timing is just right. A lot of investors in the past were complaining of the hindrances, the stumbling blocks that our investment laws place on investors who want to invest in particular industries. So it's actually good foresight on the part of our legislators to legislate this liberalization of investment," Uy explained.

Having three providers is very small for the Philippines given its over 100 million population, he added. Citing an example, Uy said that Singapore even if it's a small country has around five telco companies.

"I think we can do maybe four or five more," the incoming DICT chief said, noting that having more players would help in lowering the cost that would be beneficial for both customers and companies.

Overall, Uy said much still has to be done to improve internet connectivity in the country, especially in rural areas.

This is where Elon Musk's Starlink broadband satellite services will be coming in, which he said "is the perfect technology" and "a game changing event."

"These islands no longer [have] to wait for these expensive cables to be laid out, which might never happen because they do not have the population, but just link up directly to the satellites," Uy pointed out.

The National Telecommunications Commission on Friday approved the registration of Starlink as a value-added service (VAS) provider.

While details about the matter will still have to be discussed, Uy said the Philippines stands to greatly benefit from its services.

"But suffice it to say that with 40,000 satellites that are projected by Elon Musk for Starlink, they've already in place about 2,000. And the Philippines is one of the first countries that will be covered by those first 2,000 satellites," he pointed out.