One of the good things about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it reveals what business organisations are actually capable of given a call to step up the quality and performance of their products and services. According to a Rappler “report”, it turns out top national telco Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) company has “more than sufficient capacity for the added bandwidth that customers who work or study from home demand due to the coronavirus threat”. This raises the question of why, for so long, Filipinos have complained about the low levels of quality and reliability of the Internet services provided by PLDT.
According to PLDT spokesperson and head of public affairs Ramon Isberto, “they would be providing a speed boost for fiber customers in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite so that the minimum speed will be 25Mbps”. Even more astounding, PLDT are able to commit to mount the “technical preparations” to deliver this boost in performance within a week!
If I were a PLDT customer, I’d be really angry. It turns out that with so little “technical preparation” PLDT are actually able to upgrade the quality of their Internet service. Instead, however, customers have long put up with PLDT’s atrociously substandard — and expensive — Internet service.
In this light, it is easy to see through the dishonest announcement made by PLDT Chairman Manny Pangilinan on Twitter, making it out as if PLDT is contributing above-expectations service as a favour to its customers in a time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The fact is, PLDT has long been part of the problem of the Philippines’ renowned place in the world as a region of absolutely bad Internet. According to a 2016 Forbes report, PLDT “controls much of the infrastructure, allowing it to charge fees higher than elsewhere in Asia despite a relatively poor population. The phone company goes on to charge other providers for traffic through its network as well”.
Even more outrageous, Forbes also reports that PLDT and its partners in monopoly were instrumental in blocking the entry of new players in the Philippines’ telco market that could have introduced new technologies and infrastructure to uplift performance!
Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp. wants to enter the market and was assigned 90% of an “attractive,” available 700 megahertz spectrum, IHS senior research analyst Seth Wallis-Jones says. But the country’s two current wireless providers, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom, oppose that allocation. They are vying for a share of that spectrum ”through the courts and by lobbying the president, which is adding some uncertainty and delay,” he says.
PLDT has a lot to answer for now that it is claiming it is in an easy position to “boost” Internet performance and package this as some sort of “gift” to the Filipino people in these times of crisis. This could be construed as a lame attempt to score PR points on the back of the suffering of the people of an entire nation. Shame on PLDT!
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