Company profiles

The telecommunications industry in the Philippines is a duopoly of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom (Globe). Both are private companies, with PLDT being partly owned by Hong Kong’s First Pacific Group and Globe being part of Ayala Corp. In terms of mobile subscriber base, Globe is ahead by a narrow margin as of 2017, with about 60.6 million subscribers as opposed to PLDT’s 58.2 million (Lamiel, 2018).

Both companies have reported immense profits: from 2000 to 2016, PLDT paid its shareholders with more than PhP380bn (US$7.3bn) in cash dividends, while Globe has paid about PhP135bn (about US$2.6bn) (Camus, 2018). However, for several years now, consumers have complained about what they described as "poor" or "inconsistent" service from these telecommunications giants. According to Trade Undersecretary Vic Dimagiba, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry has received 55 complaints against Smart (under PLDT) and Globe over "poor Internet service, slow speeds or unfulfilled promise of an advertised service" in 2015 (Elchico, 2015). This is merely an official record and of course does not include reports made on informal channels such as social media.

These claims appear to be bolstered by findings from different research firms. Philippines has the slowest Internet speed in Asia-Pacific as of 2017 (Akamai Technologies, 2017), with an average speed of 5.5 mbps, lower than the global average of 7.2 mbps. In another report compiled by Cable.co.uk in 2017, Filipinos need to wait about four and a half hours to download a high-definition movie, 50 percent longer than in Vietnam and more than 14 times slower than it would take in Singapore (Camus, 2018).

In November 2018, Filipino authorities selected Mislatel, joint venture of China Telecom and a Filipino tycoon as the "provisional" new major telecommunications player that will challenge the telecommunications duopoly (provisional as the other bidders can still file an appeal).

When it comes to 4G connectivity, Philippines is behind its neighbors in Southeast Asia, despite the fact that 4G networks arrived in the country around 2013. According to a report by research firm Opensignal (2018), 4G signals remain "hard to find" in the country and neither of the two Philippines operators reached the 70 percent availability we have seen in more mature 4G markets."