Telcos open to probe on slow Internet service

By Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror

Posted at Apr 24 2014 07:42 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2014 03:42 PM

MANILA - The country’s two largest telecommunications firms are open to the Congressional probe on what a neophyte lawmaker called “slow but expensive” Internet connection compared with neighboring countries.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom Inc. both agreed that the investigation would provide a clearer picture of the Internet connectivity in the Philippines.

“We hope this will provide a more objective view of the current situation and a better understanding of the substantial efforts being undertaken by PLDT and other telcos to further improve the reach, quality and accessibility of Internet services in the country,” PLDT Spokesman Ramon Isberto told the BusinessMirror in a text message.

For her part, Globe Spokesman Yolanda Crisanto said her firm is hopeful that “something constructive” comes out of the probe.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aguirre Aquino IV wants the upper chamber to investigate on the alleged slow but expensive Internet service offerings in the country. His call was made after an infographic was posted in social media sites, claiming that the Philippines lags behind its neighbors within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. The senator said the probe would enlighten the country if Filipinos get a value-for-money Internet connection service just like their Asean counterparts.

“There are constant complaints about the providers’ failure to deliver on its promised connection speed, which usually leads to slow Internet link,” he said.

Aquino noted that a Filipino consumer pays around P1,000 a month for Internet service with speeds of up to 2 megabytes per second (Mbps) and about P2,000 for up to 5 Mbps.

The largest telecommunications company in Singapore, he said, offers 15 Mbps for S$36.90 or around P1,312 a month.

“Perhaps there should be an apple-to -apple comparison first before making a judgement. Pricing, as we know, is always relative,” Crisanto noted.

Globe has allotted roughly P27 billion for capital expenditures this year, a third of which will be used for “trailing capital expenditure payments related to the transformation initiatives.” Another third will be invested into its data network, and the balance will be spent on constructing additional cell sites and in-building solutions.

The Ayala-led telco is currently concentrating on firing up more third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) sites nationwide, as well as long-term evolution (LTE) sites in key commercial business districts and tourist destinations to further enhance mobile browsing experience of its customers.

The company is also working continuously to optimize its modernized cell sites for maximum performance while building more sites and improving its transport system to boost capacity.

PLDT has allotted P32 billion for capital investments this year. The amount will be spent largely on expanding and improving the group’s network coverage including the ultra-fast LTE technology.

The PLDT Group is set to aggressively expand its 3G footprint this year, targeting to cover 100 percent of the country’s population by the third quarter of the year. The 3G network provides more capacity, faster data rates and richer data and video applications from a second-generation (2G) network.