Monday, October 3, 2011


"DOJ as competition authority"
Lito U. Gagni
BUSINESS MIRROR, Market Files, 20 September 2011
(Original article available here)

"CAN the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursue a similar line of complaint that the US DOJ advocated against a looming merger between AT&T and T-Mobile on issues of dominance that is now the subject of a controversy involving Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Digital Telecom, which owns Sun Cellular? This merger issue, we believe, is at the heart of an executive order that sought to make DOJ as a competition authority.
As of yesterday, the state attorneys general of New York, Washington, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania have joined the US Justice Department in its suit against the proposed acquisition by AT&T of T-Mobile.
One needs only to look at what is happening in the US to determine that the proposed acquisition by PLDT of Sun Cellular would mean a 70-percent control of the frequency, the digital roadway, which smacks of dominance and goes against the grain of letting competition dictate the tempo of the business game. This is why it is important to look at what’s happening in the US in the business of telcos to know that PLDT’s acquisition of Sun would have the same impact as that of AT&T’s on T-Mobile and should, therefore, be an occasion for the DOJ to pursue its mandate as the competition authority.
No less than President Aquino sounded the alarm on the return of the monopolies. Remember that it was during the dark days of the monopoly of PLDT when 98 percent of the population was waiting for a line and 2  percent was waiting for a dial tone. This quotable quote from Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew was what possibly moved then-President Fidel V. Ramos to open the telco industry to other players.
That opening of the telecom industry to other players is what allowed the Philippines to become an investment destination and now we are reaping the benefits of that Ramos vision to rid the sector of the monopolistic situation. As a result, thousands of jobs were created, with the business-process outsourcing industry leading the way. It is thus unfortunate to know that the telco sector is again being threatened by the PLDT-Sun deal. Perhaps, the DOJ can look at the options open to prevent a repeat of the problem. For starters, it may want to google the AT&T-T-Mobile deal and discover how US state attorneys are doing it.

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