"Filipinos have suffered enough."
President Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address, showed how he shares the day-to-day concerns of ordinary Filipinos when he called out Globe and Smart for their poor quality services.
The President dramatized the agony and frustration of Juan dela Cruz over the constant experience of poor phone connection, dropped calls, weak internet signal, and intermittent online connection.
Apparently fed up with the fact that the telcos have shamelessly shortchanged their tens of millions of subscribers, the President gave the two giant telcos until the end of the year to improve their services – or face a shutdown.
“These companies providing public services better improve. Don’t make us wait for ten years to experience the kind of service being enjoyed by other countries,” he said.
The President went on to say that if Globe and Smart are not ready to improve, the government might just as well expropriate their assets and use them.
It’s been over four months since the annual address before the Congress and three weeks until Christmas Day but Digong is apparently not getting his wish of better phone and internet services for the Filipinos.
First, we were hoping that Globe and Smart/PLDT would be able to upgrade their internet services in time for the October 5 school opening which introduced 22.5 million students to “blended learning.”
But since then, students and teachers who try to conduct their class sessions online through group chat or online meetings have to put up with slow and erratic internet signal.
It is just not fair to customers considering the exorbitant fees that the two telcos charge for subscription and loads.
Both the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) have been inept and useless in addressing the problem.
Ayala-led Globe and Pangilinan’s PLDT/Smart said they have been investing heavily on technology and adding cell sites to upgrade their services. This has remained an unfulfilled promise.
There are reportedly 18,000 local cell sites shared by about 30.4 million mobile phone users as of 2017. Compare that to Thailand’s 60,000 cell sites for 26.5 million cell phone owners.
I would not blame Digong if he decides to take drastic steps against these companies and pave the way for the entry of a third telco player that may stir competition and, consequently, improve telco services.
A new telco player, Dito Telecommunity has recently delayed its technical launch, initially scheduled for July, by six months due to business disruptions from lockdowns.
Dito, led by Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy who helped fund Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016, said the company remains on track for its commercial launch next year.