Dito Telecommunity Corporation has filed cases before the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) against major rivals Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc., accusing them of abuse of dominance.
According to Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano, the company filed the cases on Monday morning due to Dito's interconnection issues with both Globe and Smart.
“As of right now the state of interconnection between us and Smart and Globe is we are actually in a state of non-connection. This is very critical. This is very important,” he told reporters in Taguig City.
Citing the guidelines of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Tamano said that out of every 100 calls only one call should not be able to interconnect.
However, he said, at the current grade of service only 30 out of 100 calls made from Dito are able to connect to one network, and only 20 are able to connect to the other. He declined to identify the networks.
Globe and Smart said they have not yet received the complaint. “We don’t have a copy of the complaint yet. Until such time we will refrain from issuing a statement. Globe reiterates that it has always advocated for fair business practices and competing on a level playing field,” Globe said in a message to GMA News Online.
“We are yet to receive a copy of the complaint, but we can assure the government and the public that PLDT and Smart have always supported and ensured fair competition in the Telco industry,” Smart said in a separate statement.
Dito Telecom specifically cited Section 15 ("Abuse of Dominant Position") of the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), which prohibits one or more entities from engaging in conduct that would “substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition.”
Section 15 (b) involves imposing barriers to entry or committing acts that prevent competitors from growing, while Section 15 (c) involves making a transaction subject to acceptance by other parties of obligations.
“We’re doing this mainly because it’s unfair to our subscribers and ultimately it’s unfair to the Filipino people who want real competition,” Tamano said.
“We’re really doing this for our subscribers and that’s why the decision was made that we’re not going to put a number. We’re not here to earn money from them. Let us compete in a fair way,” he added.
Tamano said that under the law networks are mandated to be interconnected, which was the case when Dito Telecom first started out after commercially launching in March 2021.
The company said that as it grew its subscribers, it has faced interconnection difficulties and has been trying to mediate with both Globe and Smart before the NTC since 2021.
Tamano said Dito has already filed petitions for the NTC to issue the interconnection mandate, “but the NTC can only do so much,” as he said the company has already incurred losses due to the issue.
“I’m quite confident that eventually the NTC will give us that interconnection mandate,” he said.
Tamano said the company is still open for mediation with the two companies.
“We’re open. In fact, if they’re willing to sit down with us and to fix this, I think that’s part of the reason nga ‘yung part of the [our] complaint namin, we’re not asking for a specific sum of money, we’re not asking for criminal penalties, wala. Our prayer is just for them to comply,” he said.
The Dito consortium is made up of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation, Udenna's subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Inc., and Chinese state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation.
For its part, the PCC said it received the two separate complaints on Monday, which are being evaluated by its Competition Enforcement Office (CEO). The agency will have 10 days to decide whether or not to give due course to the complaint.
Should it be given due course, the CEO will investigate the charges and if it finds sufficient basis, it will file a Statement of Objections against the supposedly erring entities.
“Interconnection is an essential component of the telecommunications industry as it allows interoperability and exchange of calls, SMS, and other information from one network to another,” it said in a separate statement.
The PCC said it will also consult with the NTC for related regulatory concerns. — BM, GMA News