Honasan floats idea of PH gov't-run telco

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Will you subscribe to a mobile network run by the Philippine government? The Department of Information and Communications Technology says there's an option to have a new provider run by the state. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — The Philippine government could choose to operate its own telecommunications network to boost competition in the market, Secretary Gringo Honasan said.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) chief said it is still on the lookout for opportunities to welcome a fourth or even a fifth player in the telco market, ahead of the rollout of Dito Telecommunity early next year.

Honasan said opening the sector to another major player remains on the table, with the option for the government to run a new network.

"We'll look at it, but there's also a possibility that technically, government will become another telco," Honasan said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

"We will supervise that definitely, technically... Anything as strategic as telecoms, especially when you move into cybersecurity, has to be managed well by government," the DICT chief added.

Dito's partner, China Telecom, is a Chinese state-run company.

READ: Dennis Uy's Dito wants to corner 30% of telco market in 3 years

Honasan clarified that the government would first check how Dito's operations would pan out in the next 18 months as Dito is expected to get subscribers.

"Let's conduct a performance audit on what the third telco, Dito, will do sa first and second quarter. Kapag maganda ang performance nila [If they perform well], then we'll look at the possibility of a fourth and a fifth telco," Honasan said.

"They're still setting up shop, but the net effect is felt already with the other players putting in capex (capital expenditures) and opex (operating expenses) and the net effect will be efficiency and lower costs for the telecom industry."

The new player paid a ₱25.7-billion performance bond to the government as it committed to provide internet service with a speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps) to 37 percent of the population on its first year of operation. The money will be forfeited in favor of the government if Dito fails to meet expectations by July 8, 2020.

The Philippines has an average mobile internet download speed of 7 Mbps and an average upload speed of 2.2 Mbps, international analytics company Opensignal said in a report last May.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Sandra Zialcita contributed to this report.