No spectrum scarcity in PH – ISOC Philippines

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REDISTRIBUTING the 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum owned by conglomerate San Miguel Corp. will not necessary result in faster data speeds, a non-profit organization focused on Internet issues said.

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“There is no technical justification on the [redistribution of the]700 MHz [band]. It’s certainly not an issue,” said Winthrop Yu, chairman of the Philippine chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC).

The Philippines’ two biggest telcos—Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom (Globe)—are currently lobbying for the reallocation of the 700 mHz frequency owned by SMC.

SMC is said to be preparing to enter the telecom market, reportedly in partnership with Australian telecommunications giant Telstra Corp.

ISOC Philippines explained that even without reallocating the 700 MHz spectrum, the two largest telco players, PLDT and Globe, still had room to upgrade the internet services they offer.

“When they say spectrum scarcity, what they’re really trying to say is spectrum is a scare resource. That’s a definition. It is not a problem. But that does not mean you have spectrum scarcity. Walang pagkukulang ng spectrum ditto [There is no shortage of spectrum here],” Yu said in an interview on the sidelines of a broadband conference in Makati.

Yu explained that even if the 700 MHz spectrum is redistributed, existing telcos could still end up providing poor broadband services.

He claimed that the two biggest players in the country were complacent in upgrading their internet services because they were already earning a lot from what their current offerings.

“They have been profitable for the past two decades or more,” Yu noted.

Yu likened the Philippines’ internet connectivity to malnutrition, saying that the country’s growth is being stunted because of slow internet speeds. “There is an impact on national development,” he said.

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