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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        15  April 2011

Philippine telecom addresses monopoly issues

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Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) on Thursday moved to allay growing fears that its acquisition of the operator of Sun Cellular would impede competition and harm consumers.
“It is not a merger or a combination. We will keep Digitel as a separate company. The transaction is a very much consumer-driven objective.
So, the fears that we will stop the unli[mited] services or bucket pricing is unfounded,” Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of PLDT told reporters in a lunch briefing.
PLDT’s assurances came amid fears raised by consumer groups, politicians and rival Globe Telecom Inc. of the acquisition’s impact on competition and on consumer interests.
The Palace has weighed in on the matter, ordering a review of PLDT’s acquisition of Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had asked PLDT and Digitel to submit documents pertaining to the P69.2-billion transaction.
“I think its warranted for the government to make a study in any event we will file an application with the NTC. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are transparent with the transaction. There’s no secret,” Pangilinan said.
“I don’ t think competition will disappear,” he said.
“We will also make a commitment with the government to accelerate the deployment of broadband, fixed and wireless throughout the country,” he said.
The executive said PLDT and Digitel aim to provide broadband connections to 95 percent of the population within three years.
Pangilinan also rejected calls by Globe that the PLDT group’s frequencies be divested to preserve competition.
“That’s one we don’t understand. The first question is, is there a scarcity of frequency? Are they laboring under the scarcity of frequency? We don’t believe so. Frequency is also a function of number of subscribers and the size of the business. We are using all the frequencies assigned to us. Right now, its sufficient to our operation,” Pangilinan said.
To date, the PLDT group’s total frequency assignment amounts to 405 megahertz (MHz), including GSM, 3G, CDMA, wireless broadband and WiMAX frequencies held by units Smart Communications Inc., Smart Broadband Inc., Connectivity Unlimited Resources Inc. (CURE), and Primeworld Digital Systems Inc.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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