EditorialsPH Digital and Tech

Japan’s KDDI and SoftBank Also Exploring Possible PH Broadband Ventures

It is not just SpaceX that has plans to invest in the Philippines: new reports confirm that Japan’s KDDI Group and Softbank also expressed interest as well.

As reported by GMA News, DFNN Inc. chairman Raymon Garcia confirmed in a disclosure that both KDDI and Softbank–the latter owned by Masayoshi Son–are interested in investing in the Philippines, particularly with the country’s internet. The said meeting was attended by other Filipinos and Garcia himself.

Both Softbank and KDDI are engaged in the telecommunications business in Japan. They cover the sale of mobile devices and provision of fixed-line telecommunications. Should both companies intend to invest in the Philippines, this will greatly improve the country’s internet speeds.

In Ookla’s January 2021 report, the Philippines improved its mobile internet speeds by 10 spots while it remains in the same rank for fixed internet speeds–though there is a very small improvement as far as download speeds and latency is concerned.

While the said news is definitely promising–with US and Japan-based companies showing interest to help out and improve our current internet speeds–there are still limitations as far as ownership is concerned. Current Philippine laws mandate that foreigners can only own up to 40% of businesses that are related to public services.

Congress did pass a bill to allow 100% foreign ownership of pubic utilities last March, though there is no word yet as to the current status of the bill. Aside from law-related restrictions, the interest of foreign companies to invest can be hampered by other factors like bureaucratic hurdles in order to build towers and additional infrastructures, and private property management like homeowners association blocking telco efforts of installing additional infrastructure to improve internet speeds.

There are efforts to address these roadblocks, but it will take a while before those planned investments from KDDI and Softbank in the Philippines will come into fruition.


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