Okay, I am furious. Fuming mad. Angry. Why? No, it has nothing to do with the current Philippine Senate Circus, or with the problems some local banks are facing with their investments with Lehman Brothers – since the Philippine Central Bank said local Banks are safe – but, no Sirs, nothing is safe these days.

So it’s like this. Okay, so you start a business, you go through the business plan process, and secure capitalization, process voluminous paper requirements with the SEC and other government agencies, you find an office space, buy furnitures, servers and laptops, and yeah, office phone with DSL internet connection.

So we’ve done all of them, got an office space in an office tower in Mandaluyong/Ortigas area, and one week before the official launch, applied a phone line with DSL with PLDT. Five weeks passed, still all we got were 3 volumes of yellow and white pages delivered 2 weeks ago – no phone line, couldn’t even print our business cards because we don’t have a telephone number yet, and no internet connection!

The Telecoms Industry in the Philippines

What does a Country need to be globally competitive for long term investments thus making more jobs available? There maybe a lot but probably among the top criteria are political stability, peace and order and, a good telecoms industry.

A Telecoms study results of two different research companies surprisingly have the following common illustration of the state of the telecommunications industry in the Philippines:

The country’s telecom industry is rather unusual – for a developing country – for two reasons. First, its regulation is extremely liberal and, second, in some respects there is a surfeit of telecom infrastructure. The regulatory regime is weak to the point of being ineffectual, while the fixed line infrastructure is severely under-utilised and a great deal of investment is going to waste.

Source: Research and Markets

… the crash programme of infrastructure expansion that the government introduced in the mid-1990s has resulted in an abundance of fixed lines. Many that are now installed are still not operational. The issue today is not so much that lines are unavailable but rather that those in place are under-utilised.

… The Philippines has long had one of the most deregulated telecom environments in the world.

… However, this liberalisation and lack of regulation has not translated into true competition. The weak regulatory regime has allowed the incumbent operator to maintain, and even strengthen, its dominant position.

Source: Asia Pacific Telecom Research Ltd

Now you’ll be surprised, aghast, flabbergasted – when there’s so much facilities available but are under-utilised, when for just a simple phone line connection in a notable building, with existing phone cabling and the previous tenant had a line already, its taking PLDT several weeks and still nothing happens. “You should have contacted customer support”, O yeah! We did, here are the details:

Week 0: Submitted all documents for business phone line processing

Week 1: No feedback. Called up 171, after half an hour of calling, the Customer Helldesk said there’s no information yet.

Week 2: Emailed Customer Support, no response. Called Customer Hotline – nobody knows. Note: A guy told us to give some TIP Amount so our line could be expedited – I said no.

Week 3: Called up some Managers at PLDT. We were told that a certain Michael is coordinating with a certain Jack so we better talk to a certain Albert so we would know what happened to our Service Order number. So we were given a number of a certain Jason to follow up with a certain Paul what happened to our application. We got tired calling all those people. Week ended with nothing happened.

Week 4: Surprise! Finally, we were told we have our Service Number. So the Service number will be used to create a Job Order which will be used to process our Phone number. We got excited, finally. Midweek, a guy came to deliver 3 volumes of yellow and white pages. What I’m gonna do with those anyway?

Week 5: Still nothing! Emailed Customer Suckport – no response. As usual the Customer HellDesk is clueless.

It is hard to operate a business without a phone line and an internet connection. There were already many lost opportunities – I can’t even start training my people since we need a good internet connection. Currently we are sharing an internet connection with the adjacent office, but we can’t do so much.

While its true that we have lots of Telecoms Operators in the country, the industry is still dominated by PLDT and its subsidiaries. Options are still limited. If only Bayantel have a good DSL service then perhaps I could have applied a phone line with them.

Update: (19-Sep-2008)

Finally we got the line, and the DSL service installed today. Its just so sad that it took some action from a higher PLDT office to give the contractor a push to install the line by today, or else…

Wouldn’t it be better if quick service is applied to all – Big time companies or small time businesses (like us)? Sigh…

Next Article: Globe Is Cheating Its Customers – so beware and check your bills!