The Philippines looks likely to receive a fourth major commercial mobile operator shortly after its third, with Now Telecom set to launch 5G services and build out a backbone network across the country.
With an enterprise offering that includes wireless broadband and cloud services, Now Telecom is well positioned to enter the consumer market in the Philippines as it holds both a congressional franchise for telecom services valid for the next 25 years as well as a mobile telecoms licence.
Last year, Now Telecom bid for the country’s third commercial mobile licence but ultimately was beaten by the Mislatel Consortium. The group, which involves several local firms along with China Telecom, has rebranded as the Dito Telecommunity and will begin offering consumer services towards the end of 2020.
Now Telecom last month signed an MoU with Singapore’s HyalRoute Group to partner on a new fibre network. A local unit of HyalRoute is partnering with the operator to invest as much as $1-2 billion into a fibre network covering the entire archipelago. The backbone network will be made available for lease by providers of telecom and internet services, as well as cable TV.
Speaking to the Manila Bulletin, Now Telecom’s president Rodolfo Pantoja said: “The nationwide backbone allows us to replicate our success in metro Manila with guaranteed throughput broadband services.”
The Philippines’ mobile market is currently a duopoly between Globe and Smart, although the Department of Information and Communications Technology has stated that allowing more competitors is a matter of making additional frequencies available. In November last year, the departmental undersecretary Monchito Ibrahim said: “If we have enough frequencies, we’ll allow a fourth telco, a fifth telco”.