MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered China the “privilege” to be his country’s third telecoms operator, his spokesman said on Monday, turning to a historic rival to break a longstanding duopoly that has frustrated consumers for years.
“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,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a media briefing.
“The announcement is that telecoms duopoly is about to end.”
No specific Chinese company had been lined up, Roque said. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ties with China have warmed under Duterte, who has put aside disputes with Beijing and wants it to play a key role in building and funding urgently needed infrastructure, from highways and ports to railways and power plants.
Duterte recognised that China had the money and technology to make a difference in the Philippines, Roque said.
“Consider also the proximity and the fact that we want to avail of as much as economic advantage that we could, arising from the renewed friendly ties with China,” he said.
PLDT and Globe have been accused of stifling competition and of failing to make necessary upgrades, accusations both have rejected.
This year, content delivery network service provider Akamai Intelligent Platform said the Philippines ranked the lowest in terms of average internet connection speeds among Asia-Pacific countries.
Opening up the telecoms sector is complex, however, as the constitution limits foreigners to owning just 40 percent of a domestic telecoms company, a disincentive for foreign firms to invest in a fast-growing market of more than 100 million people.