PT&T prepares for 3rd telco bid

Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) implemented a management revamp as it vies to become the country’s third telco player.

PT&T named James Velasquez, former IBM Philippines president and country manager, its new CEO, replacing Benjamin Bitanga, one of the company’s controlling shareholders.

PT&T announced Friday the resignation of Bitanga and Gerardo de Leon from the company’s board. Taking their place were Velasquez and Renato Garcia, who was described as a leader in the telco and IT industry with 44 years of experience.

“PT&T needs a professional who has a background in telco and IT. It is expanding rapidly and it is full time. I am not that person, so I resigned,” Bitanga said in a text message, adding that he would remain a shareholder of the company.

Bitanga and businessman Salvador Zamora II, who sits as PT&T chair, acquired the company in August last year.

Velasquez, a graduate of Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, had spent nearly three decades in IBM in various capacities, PT&T said in a statement.

“The election of Velasquez and Garcia is vital to the business strategy and future plans of PT&T, which intends to become the third major telecom player in the Philippines,” the company added.

PT&T was established in 1962 and was once considered a rival of PLDT. It took a hit during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. About a decade later, it filed for corporate rehabilitation due to mounting debts—an issue that Zamora said the company would address.

“We believe PT&T is in an ideal position to vie for the third telco slot given its technical expertise, solid track record and infrastructure to back it up,” Velasquez said in the statement.

PT&T holds a 25-year franchise, which allows the company to establish, maintain and operate both wired and wireless telecommunications systems for domestic and international communications in the Philippines.

PT&T also operates a newmulti 10+ GBPS (Gigabytes per second) broadband network across National Capital Region, Cebu and in central and southern Luzon.

Garcia, in the same statement, said PT&T would continue to roll out its broadband services for businesses and homes “regardless of the third telco player outcome.”


Exclusive: The building blocks of a digital Philippines

When former President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Republic Act 10844 to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Rodolfo Salalima was on the plane to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the council meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Salalima used to be a private litigator and practitioner. He was also once the Senior Vice President for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, and Assistant Corporate Secretary, at Globe Telecom. He used to head the Globe Telecom Holdings, Inc too.
Besides that, he was doing pro-bono work for the Philippines' government as the country's adviser and spokesperson in ITU's council, and plenipotentiary meetings, before being appointed as the DICT secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte last June.
Accepting the position was not an easy decision for Salalima. "There were some second thoughts because I used to work in the private sector and doing a government job is a sacrifice [as] I have to close my law office so I can assume [the position]," he said in an exclusive interview with Computerworld Philippines.
"But I feel that I am happy that in the last part of my life; at least I'm doing something for our government, for our people, at least I am going to leave a legacy to the Filipino people as the first Secretary of the DICT," he added.
As the head of the seven-month old department, Salalima said their priority projects are in line with the mandate of President Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2016. This includes the development of a National Broadband Plan (NBP), boosting Wi-Fi access in public areas, and the creation of a National Government Portal (NGP).
Improving internet access in the Philippines
According to Salalima, under the proposed NBP, the government will establish broadband infrastructures from the northern to the southern parts of the country. This aims to deliver telecommunications services to government agencies and areas in the countryside without access to the internet.
The government had three options to implement the plan. First was to build a passive network infrastructure to be leased and operated by telco companies. The second choice was to build a broadband infrastructure operated by the DICT. The last option was to build a network and enter as a complete telecommunications player.
After previous consultation with other cabinet officials, Salalima said that DICT will implement the second option.
"Now the Undersecretary Dennis Villorente is fleshing out, putting details on the National Broadband Plan for approval of the President. Hopefully, by the end of January, we may be able to present the broadband with some details," he added.

DICT to implement Philippines’ national broadband plan next year

The Philippines' Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will implement the national broadband plan (NBP) next year.
"By the end of this year, [maybe the plan] can be finalised and then implemented by next year," said DICT Undersecretary Denis F. Villorente, in a report by GMA News Online.
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 25 July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said he ordered the DICT to develop a NBP to boost the deployment of fibre optic cables and wireless technologies in the country to improve internet speed.
In the same report, Villorente said the DICT plans to consult various stakeholders from the private sector - such as PLDT, and Globe Telecom - and government to get their inputs for the development of NBP, which is now in the last stages of finalisation.
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