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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  April 2011

Telecom hassle hits Philippines

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Philippines’ #2 telecom, Globe Telecom Inc., wants the Aquino administration to stop market leader Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s (PLDT) acquisition of third-ranked Sun Cellular.

In a letter to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), second-ranked Globe said the regulator should issue rules penalizing monopolistic behavior amid a “mismatched” level playing field that put consumers at risk.

The Ayala-led telecom company also sent the same letter to the Office of the President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, and the secretaries of the Departments of Transportation and Communications, of Justice, of Finance, of Trade and Industry, and of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.

“The NTC cannot and must not shrink from its legal obligation to intervene in the PLDT-Digitel deal and regulate, if not forestall, the deal’s grave implications and impact on free competition and, in the long term, the common good,” Rodolfo Salalima, Globe legal counsel said in the 10-page letter.

PLDT earlier said it will buy 51.55 percent of Sun Cellular operator, Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc., from Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Inc. in a share-swap deal valued at P69.2 billion. The Philippines’ largest telco also will acquire the remaining Digitel shares held by the public, raising the total acquisition price to P74.1 billion.

Salalima said the government, through NTC, should implement “pre-emptive moves and regulations to protect fair and free competition” from the significant market power of the PLDT group.

He said PLDT’s acquisition of Digitel would result in “tremendous dominant market clout, power and influence in the telecommunications industry” at 70 percent compared with Globe’s 30 percent in a market of 82 million mobile phone subscribers out of a population of 92 million.

Given this, the NTC must return the level playing field in the industry, Salalima said, adding that the regulator should exercise its quasi-legislative power of revisiting spectrum frequency assignments.

Citing a frequency assignment ratio of 1:3.5 in favor of PLDT, Salalima said the NTC should re-assign or evenly distribute to Globe and to any deserving and qualified player the said frequencies to give them a fighting chance against PLDT.

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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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