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CES 2018 just wrapped up but our series of articles covering the biggest tech show on earth are still dropping! Check them out HERE.

UPDATE on 2018.01.14: Added China Telecom’s broadband plans screengrab, see China Telecom plans section

With all the recent news being out about Philippines and its invitation to look for a third telecommunications player (mainly to disrupt the long-time duopoly made by PLDT Group and Globe Telecom), we all don’t know which is actually which and who should we give the coveted slot that the Philippine government is offering to.

In this article, we’ll tackle about the candidates, based from what we’ve heard from reliable sources. We will also give out what is their status and what we know about them in particular.

China Telecom

State-backed China Telecom is actually the first one who promised us to beat the duopoly after President Rodrigo Duterte opened his invitation for a third telco from China.

However, even the presidential spokesperson Harry Roque isn’t 100% sure about the fact if China Telecom could really be the third telco, stating that they’re open to other countries who’ll bid, mainly due to the reasons we’ve tackled about this dedicated editorial we’ve made just few weeks ago.

In case of China Telecom, there’s also nothing in particular that was established yet in the country. No cell sites or microcell towers and transmitters that they’ll use to operate immediately if President Duterte will stand on his March 2018 deadline. Even the available frequency spectrum aren’t enough for them, too.

You might like to read: China Telecom entering Philippines as third telco – what does it really mean for the Filipinos?

Also, price of both prepaid and postpaid plans on China Telecom isn’t a joke. If you thought that they’re cheaper – then you’re wrong. 

Check their current offerings from the photos below: (source)

Prepaid Plans for China Telecom
Prepaid Plans for China Telecom
Postpaid Plans for China Telecom
Postpaid Plans for China Telecom

If you’re going to convert it to Philippine Peso according to current exchange rates, in prepaid, 2GB of mobile data for 90 days will cost you CNY100 or around PhP780, and 4GB for 30 days will cost you CNY 120 or around PhP930. Do the math, it’s pricier than what we currently have.

I doubt that you’ll keep that 2GB or 4GB of mobile data for more than a week or two, but 90/30 days? Hell no!

However, on a positive side, we’ve also researched about China Telecom plans for 200Mbps broadband internet for only around PhP14,850 / CNY1900 per year, comparing to PLDT and Globe’s offering of the same price at just around 3-20Mbps.

*well, except those Fiber-optic plans which extends from 20Mb to 100Mb.

Remember, China’s mobile internet speed isn’t that fast, too – even average for China isn’t that impressive in our eyes.

China’s average speed in November 2017 (from analytics)

Security and Trust Issues

Concerns arising from China Telecom is primarily trust and security issues. In our dedicated editorial, we’ve cited a statement from a retired intelligence officer that China Telecom’s entry into the Philippines will be a big imposing threat to national security, considering China’s actions on regulating their access to Web. There’s also the fact that the biggest cybersecurity threat to the Philippines came from China.

Former President Benigno Aquino III also said having a Chinese firm in the local telco market could have national security implications, as he recalls that years ago, both U.S and Australia cited national security as reason on why they did not allow Chinese communications and technology firms to take part in businesses in their countries (just like Huawei is now facing again with entering U.S market for its mobiles).

There’s also the issue of heavy censorship, blocking of services and other websites that might be preset in our country as well.

At this point you might conclude that we’re negative about China Telecom, right? However, I’ll save my points to the last, so let’s proceed to the next candidate.

ZTE Corp.

Sounds familiar? Yep, the one from the cancelled NBN-ZTE program of Arroyo’s administration.

Chinese mobile giant ZTE also places itself to be the third telco player in the country. As we stated on the article below, ZTE is in a consortium with Davao-based telco TierOne Comm International, Nokia and Parallel Wireless, to deploy microcell towers around Mindanao, and expanding to Philippines.

You might like to read: ZTE also wants to be PHL’s 3rd telco player

TierOne Comm International’s PhP3-billion investment for telecommunications in the region was already approved by ARMM’s Board of Investments (BOI) and will start on putting up high-speed 100Mbps internet connections throughout the region this month, starting with the ARMM government compound in Cotabato city.

ZTE hopes to cover the entire Philippines before President Duterte ends his term on 2022.

On this one, at least, we see some progress. Hopes for them to improve telecommunication services in the Mindanao and Visayas region first. The others will take care of Luzon, for now.

However, since ZTE isn’t a dedicated telco company that offers mobile data promos or internet plans like China Telecom or Smart and Globe, we don’t have any information about its pricing and plans. Instead, you might like to check out their recently-released foldable smartphone on the link below:

READ: ZTE launches a foldable phone with 2 screens


Recent reports said that PT&T is in talks with a South Korean firm to establish themselves as the Philippine’s third telco player. And while isn’t officially confirmed or disclosed yet – we might expect that PT&T’s foreign arm would be South Korea’s LG U+.

READ: South Korea’s LG U+ wants to be the 3rd telco player in the Philippines – Andanar

LG U+ (Uplus) Corp. is a South Korean cellular carrier owned by LG Corporation, Korea’s fourth largest conglomerate and parent company of the LG Electronics. It was formerly known as LG Telecom.

Yes, there’s a little bit of positivity now. Seeing that a firm from the country with the world’s fastest internet speed might have interest in operating here in the country gives us the hope of being on par with South Korea’s internet speeds at the very least.

The information about LG U+ came from Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar, when he revealed in a DZBB radio interview that a “source” told him that LG U+ is the Korean firm that is in talks with Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp (PT&T).

“So this will be very exciting,” Andanar said.

Although PT&T hasn’t officially disclosed yet that LG U+ is the South Korean firm that they are talking into (since according to them it was binded by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)), it will be made soon as an agreement is finalized.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the list of plans and prices LG U+ is currently offering. We’re trying to get in touch with a representative from LG so that we can have a list of their plans and prices, to compare.

We’ll update this post once that material becomes available.

Final thoughts

Duterte Administration wants a third telecom provider to be up and running by the first quarter of 2018, which if we want to see realized, should be starting now to set up its facilities and offices.

A move that is realistically impossible, even if worked by now. 6 months, maybe?

So why this whole damn telco thing matters?

If you are a frequent user of internet and mobile data like us always do, you’ll know the frustration given by our country’s data / ISP providers with their current prices and quality of services. Not to mention that THEY CAN bring their service up beyond that but don’t want to because they just DON’T WANT TO.

Also, the era of 5G is also near. With the slow deployment of 4G LTE, we can’t expect our local telco providers to jump into the 5G bandwagon that quick as soon as it rolls out. In line of this, both LG U+ and China Telecom has promises for 5G deployment in their respective countries.

Now, what we like to see with a third telecommunications player entering the country is a change in mobile data prices, quality of service and competitive strategies that will benefit the customers the most. The third telco player presence is meant to shake up the duopoly, the competition and also to bring hopes to us Filipinos about our internet service.

Whatever works the best should be the one to enter the country and given the coveted slot, not just because it is state-backed, or being close to fast enough. It should be properly deliberated by the lawmakers, because in real-life, we can’t help them or do much about their decision.

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