In a bid to improve its mobile and telecommunications services in the face of the possible entry of a third player in the Philippine telco market, PLDT Inc. subsidiary Smart Communications has signed a $28 million (P1.4 billion) deal with Chinese telco giant Huawei. The partnership aims to improve Smart’s prepaid electronic loading and online charging services.
“This partnership will enable PLDT Group’s wireless services under the brands PLDT, Smart, Sun and TNT to become much more agile, efficient and resilient in developing and delivering a growing array of digital services,” PLDT honcho Manuel Pangilinan said.
The deal will allow PLDT and Smart to offer more personalized offers and rewards to its more than 60 million mobile subscribers.
PLDT has announced late last year that it plans to spend $1 billion (P50 billion) to improve its services. The Philippines has one of the slowest Internet connection speeds in Asia, and the planned spending spree aims to solve a major problem with Internet services in the country.
Smart and rival Globe have long been the subject of complaints from subscribers bemoaning the inconsistent and unreliable Internet and mobile services in the country. It came to a point that Alibaba founder and billionaire Jack Ma remarked that the Internet was “no good” while on a visit to the Philippines.
Just last November, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he invited a third player from China to enter the local telecommunications market. The announcement understandably ruffled the feathers of the two major telecom companies who feared that a third major telecom company will put a dent into their lucrative business.
Personally, I welcome the entry of a third player because stiffer competition will ultimately result in better services that will benefit the end consumers. I have nothing against Globe and Smart – in fact, I pay a lot of my hard-earned money to these two companies – but it seems that they are content in resting in their own laurels. A third player will hopefully jolt them from their deep slumber and force them to improve their services to avoid being left behind. A monopoly, or a duopoly in this case, is never good.