Philippine telecom sector is now 100% open to foreign ownership. On March 21, 2022, the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte signed the law Republic Act No. 11659 amending the 85-year-old Public Service Act (PSA), allowing foreigners to fully own companies in the telecommunication, shipping, airline, railway, toll road, and transport network vehicle industries. Previously, these industries had a 40% cap on foreign equity, as they were considered public utilities.
The Philippines is becoming a rising hub for Trans-Pacific and Intra-Asia submarine cable networks, with open policies and regulations, improved makekt competition, various international connectivity and bombing data centers.
Prior to the duopolistic period by PLDT and Globe in 2010s, there were multiple submarine cable operators in the Philippines. Digitel participated in the EAC cable system and operated its cable landing station in Cavite, through its join venture Digitel Crossing. Bayantel and Eastern Telecom (ETPI) were members of AAG. Digitel was acquired by PLDT in 2011, Bayantel was acquired by Globe Telecom in 2013,while Eastern Telecom (ETPI) was acquired jointly by PLDT and Globe Telecom (each holding 50% stakes in ETPI) in 2016.
The creation and establishment of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in June 2016 marked a new efforts for the Philippines to reform policies and regulations, promote competition and develop ICT industry.
In 2017, the DICT and the state-owned firm Bases Conversion and Development and Development Authority (BCDA) collaborated with Facebook to land PLCN in the Phillippines under the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) project which is a government initiative for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) , the first of its kind for the Philippine government to implement by building and operating its own submarine cable landing stations. The BCDA builds the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) made up of two cable landing stations and a 250 km long cable network corridor connecting the two cable landing stations.
In 2019, after a public bidding overseen by the DICT, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and an oversight committee, Dito Telecommunity (formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. or Mislatel) was granted the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN License), became the third major telecommunications provider in the Philippines. Dito Telecommunity is a joint venture of Davao businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation (through its subsidiary Dito Holdings Corporation) and China Telecom (40%).
In 2021, Converge ICT Solutions Inc.(Converge) announced the investment of more than US$100million to participate in the Bifrost cable system. Converge has built a domestic submarine cable network in the Philippines, Converge ICTSI Domestic Submarine Cable Network (CDSCN), connecting 22 landing stations throughout the Philippines. Converge acquired majority ownership in Digitel Crossing in 2021 and restructured Digetel Crossing to form a joint venture between Converge and Telstra, Telstra Converge Inc. Converge participted in SEA-H2X project in 2022
The Philippine market seems to be of more openness and competitiveness, which are foundamental features for an international telecom hub.
There are now 11 in-service international submarine cable systems connecting the Philippines, and another 5 transpacific subsea cables under construction, including ADC, Apricot, Bifrost, CAP-1, SEA-H2X.
By 2024, there will be 7 trans-pacific subsea cables connecting the Philippines to the US, including Guam-Philippines, AAG, SEA-US, Jupiter, PLCN, CAP-1, Bifrost, building the position of the Philippines as an international telecommunications hub in the APAC region.
PLDT's cable landing stations include:
Globe Telecom's cable landing stations include:
BCDA's cable landing stations include:
Converge's cable landing stations include:
In addition to international submarine cables, there are several domestic fiber cable backbone networks, including PLDT's Domestic Fiber-Optic Network (DFON), Globe's Fiber Optic Backbone Network (FOBN), Converge's Domestic Submarine Cable Network (CDSCN), NGCP/TransCo Backbone Network, etc.
Along with the rising position for trans-pacific subsea cables, data centers in the Philippines are growing.
PLDT, through its subsidiary PLDT Enterprises (ePLDT), is the major operator for data centers in the Philippines, currently operating 10 VITRO data center facilities:
Several hyperscale data centers are developed in the greater Manila area, including PLDT VITRO Data Center #11 in Sta. Rosa with up to 100MW power supply. Space DC's 72MW hyperscale data center in Cainta, and Digital Edge's 10MW data center in Laguna.
(Updated: May 2022)