Colloquium: TRE Philippines Study

Posted on September 12, 2008  /  0 Comments

The study was conducted by Erwin Alampay.

The number of mobile subscribers rose significantly since 1998, this is due to prepaid being introduced. This made access easier to potential subscribers.

Also, after 1993 the number of fixed telephone lines that were installed increased significantly and have remained constant since.

The number of mobile subscribers are very low from 1991 to 1998, this could be explained by the high cost of obtaining a handset amongst other factors.

The main 3 mobile operators are Islacom, SunCell and GCash.

Helani: is it possible to plot the price of a 1 min mobile minute and the price of an SMS?
Erwin: Its a little tricky, cause the SMS price has remained the same over time, and includes bundled offers or unlimited SMS offers.

Movement in data/internet

There seems to be greater investment in data call centers and paging centers (that died due to SMS popularity).

There is also a great deal of growth in the number of ISPs. Smart has 300,000 mobile interbet subscribers (2007).

Helani: is there 3G offers in Philippines? or just GPRS?

Erwin: 3G started last year, but most subscribers are still using GPRS but they are moving towards 3G.

Helani: who has their own backbone to provide internet?

Erwin: PLDT

Market Entry: Low rating for fixed sector with the mobile and broadband sectors doing better which can be explained by the growth potential. Mobile could have got a better score if not for the questions in regard to granting 3G licenses that involved alack of tranparency ( no auction).

Access to scarce resources: 3G licenses were given out at the last quarter of 2007 and was based on a ‘beauty contest’. This resulted in questions arising about transparency.

Helani: does the reselling of spectrum require regulatory approval?

Erwin: There does not seem to be any such procedure in place, in regard to anti-competitive practices.

The impact of the policies in broadband have not been felt as yet. There was some controversy about the backbone for provision of broadband.

Rohan: did they specify that the local companies were excluded.

Erwin, yes, but all local operators have foreign partners. The policy requires foreign investment. There are NBN hearing addressing the issues of some operators been excluded from bidding.

Interconnection: Ratings received between the three sectors seem to be much the same. Mobile scores have increased since 2006 and this shows that some of the issues have been resolved.

Helani: how does interconnection work there?

Erwin: based in individual contracts.

Rohan: is there anything on internet interconnection? with a local internet exchange?

Helani: is there more than one submarine cable coming into the Philippines?

Erwin: yes, there are more than one.

Tariffs: There seems to be no significant difference between the scores for the three sectors?

Helani: are prices regulated?

Erwin: there is a great deal of competition and the rates are set by the market. There is also free SMS…

Anti-competitive practices: Lowest TRE scores, and poses the highest challenge for regulators esp in highly competitive areas like mobile.

Does having unlimited call/SMS from new players lead to predatory pricing? Some players charge a fixed amount for a call regardless of the time of the call ( applies even to calls made from fixed to mobile lines). However, this cannot be provided indefinitely and hence is a promotional tool.

Helani: have any of these being challenged in court?

Erwin: some…

Difficulty if regulation competition:  reuglation for the above area should not include the following;

1) lack of instutional capacity of the regulator to enforce poicy

2) lack of incentive/ motivation for market players to comply with the policy

3) strong political backing of major carriers from the executive and legislative branches of government.

Rohan: there has been a rapid turnover or regulatory commissioner?

Erwin: yes, but difficult to draw a direct correlation between the two.

Also the lack of tranparency and concept of a level playing field seems to be a major concern amongst most respondents.

Universal Service Obligation: Clear USO policy only exists in fixed.

Helani: Most of the new lines weren’t in undeserved areas but in urban areas…

Erwin: There arnt enough lucrative markets and hence there is more focus on the urban areas.

SAS affects the mobile sector negativly. Mobiles have to contribute through building a fixed network and is managed by same.

New USO goals: undertakes a build, operate and transfer of broadband network and will be operated by CICT. Moving away from voice and acknowledges the limitations of the pvt sector to provide broadband services.

Service Quality: Not tracked on a regular basis. Mobile sccored the best in this area with fixed and broadband lagging behind. There is a poor percention of quality of broadband services. However, you can get even a fixed line connection in one working day.

Summary: The mobile sector does best overall with fixed and broadband coming in second and thrid place. However, the TRE average for mobile and fixed is lower than in 2006, with USO and anti-competitive practices pulling it down.

PLDT is still the dominant operator. All operators have international gateways.

Rohan: what could be the cause for the anti-competitive issue in mobile?

Erwin: they have certain promotions that are anti-competitive. This results in the smaller operators finding it difficult to operate at a competitive level.

Rohan: is tere an anti-competitive agency? or is it handled by the regulator?

Erwin: its handled by thr regulator..

The main issues in 2008 where, the allocation of 3G licenses, NBN/ Cyber Ed- establishment of a broadband network and the provision of free SMS ( this didnt come through as the prices that the telcos were offering were even lower than what the regulator wanted).

Rohan: do they do buckets of services? or on a sms by sms basis?

Erwin: if your on a postpaid then you will have a xxx number of sms for a fixed price a month, while if your on a prepaid package then you will have unlimited number of sms for a fixed price a day.

Smart is the largest mobile operator.

Rohan: can a calculation for HHI be done?

Erwin: yes, that can be done.

Comments are closed.