WITH the looming entry of Australian telecom giant Telstra Corp. into the local market, the government should invest in a “digital superhighway” thru the National Broadband Network (NBN), a technology expert said.
According to information technology (IT) expert Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the “digital superhighway” will allow the free movement of the country’s digital goods.
Although the entry of Telstra will be good for consumers, Lozada doubts if it can provide faster internet service.
He said the entry of Telstra via a joint venture with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) would create healthy competition with local players Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom, but it does not necessarily guarantee faster internet speeds in the country.
“First, competition will always be good in any marketplace, that’s a given. It will always be good for the consumers. But providing faster Internet [speed]will still have to be proven,” Lozada said in a radio interview.
Telstra’s offer to provide faster internet connectivity would have to be proven first given the current state of the country’s digital infrastructure, he said.
Lozada cited the lack of an NBN, which he likened to roads used to move people and goods around.
“Now that we have an era where we are now trading digital goods, almost all of the roadways, almost all of the roads of digital goods are privately owned,” Lozada said.
The lack of an NBN is to blame for the country’s most expensive yet slowest internet connectivity, he said.
“That’s why we are the most expensive in the world and one of the slowest. Not until the government plays its own role by putting up its own NBN, nothing will happen to our country,” he added.
He pointed out that the government must now continue to provide an NBN for the nation so that the people can freely move goods around.
“We need a Philippine Internet exchange so that the government has control of all the roads of our Internet traffic,” he said.
The Philippine market is taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach to Telstra Corp.’s possible entry into the country despite the claim of Telstra chief executive Andy Penn of providing better quality telecommunications services to Filipinos at lower costs.
Penn issued the statement amid news of Telstra’s drop in share price in recent months due to increased competition in Australia, and constant reports of service issues and complaints from its own Australian customers as well.
Telstra recently disclosed to the Australian Securities Exchange that it has set aside $1.5 billion in capital for mergers and acquisitions for the remainder of 2015, the bulk of which may reach the Philippines through a joint venture with San Miguel.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), Australia’s fair dispute resolution service established by a Federal Act of Parliament, cited Telstra as the most complained-about telco in country just this May 2015.
The TIO reported that Telstra customers made more complaints about their service provider than any other telco’s users in the last three months, placing the company at the top of the TIO’s complaint list.