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Palace names possible 3rd force in PH telecoms

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By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang revealed the other night that South Korean multinational conglomerate LG Corporation is the firm that also wants to be the third telecommunications (telecoms) service provider in the Philippines.

The announcement came days after Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a radio interview that a South Korean firm is interested in becoming the third player among telecommunications companies (telcos) in the country.

Andanar, in an interview over Super Radyo DZBB Friday night, said LG’s possible entry in the Philippines telecommunications field will make the industry more interesting for the country this year.

“Ito iyong makikipag-partner na Korean company [with PT&T]. So, interesado daw ang LG (This is the Korean company who wants to party with PT&T. LG is interested), according to my source,” he said.

“So this will be very exciting. Kasi kung mayroon ka namang ganiyang kalaking kumpanya na mag-i-invest sa Pilipinas (Because if you have this large of a company wanting to invest in the Philippines) with PT&T, then it becomes a very exciting telco industry for the Philippines this 2018,” he added.

It was earlier reported that China Telecom is keen on being the country’s third telecommunications player. However, they are yet to find a local partner with an existing franchise in order to comply with the country’s constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership to 40 percent.

Despite naming China Telecom first, Andanar said the offer is also open to other countries interested to compete with the existing two large telecommunications company in the Philippines.

“Kung sino ang pinakamagandang offer sa bidding, aba’y iyon ang mananalo. Hindi naman ito parang monopolya pagdating sa third player. Kailangan talaga it’s the best (Whichever has the best offer will win. It will not be a monopoly for the third player. It just really has to be the best),” Andanar explained.

“May the best bidder win para at least mabigyan ng magandang serbisyo at telco experience ang ating mga kababayan (so at least we can provide our people with the best service and experience),” he added.

LG, a Seoul-based conglomerate, is known to make electronics, chemicals, and telecommunications products in over 80 countries through its subsidiaries such as LG Electronics, Zenith, and LG Display.

Last week, Andanar said Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp (PT&T). and its then unnamed South Korean partner are also interested in joining the telco sector in the country.

He said this was revealed by Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. to President Duterte during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang last Monday.

Duterte had earlier formally invited China to become the third telecommunications player in a bid to end the ‘telecoms duopoly’ in the country initiated by Globe and PLDT.

The President ordered DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to swiftly approve applications and licenses to allow the third telecoms player to begin operations before the first quarter of 2018 ends.

However, senators have expressed concern over the government’s decision to allow a state-run Chinese company to set up the third teleco in the country, citing possible threats to the Philippines’ cybersecurity.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has assured that the DICT is taking the necessary steps to ensure the country’s cybersecurity.

“They shouldn’t worry because government is already worried. The marching order really is to ensure the country’s cybersecurity,” Roque said in a press briefing last December.

“So other than the fact that we will take steps to protect our cybersecurity with the entry of China Telecoms, I can’t say anything else,” he added.

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