The formerly Gokongwei-owned Sun Cellular made its mark in the local cellular service market by providing unlimited calls and texts between Sun users. Soon after, Smart and Globe had to step up their services and lower their prices, and the relatively competitive environment was good for business, and for consumers.
Now with the battle of cellphone providers becoming limited to PLDT (Smart, Sun) versus Globe, people are worried about a non-competitive atmosphere, where ‘unlimited’ will be dropped, to be replaced by higher-priced services.
I’ve already dealt with the wrongness of calling for antitrust, which would further encumber the already encumbered telco industry and eliminate potential competition to come from SMEs.
This time around, I’d like to point out how the question of ‘unlimited’ services continuing is dependent on the level of competitiveness in the industry. When Sun was owned by the Gokongweis, the ‘unlimited’ service for cellphone and broadband was provided not “for the welfare of the poor” but for profit.
Manny Pangilinan can try to raise prices, since it is ‘only’ Globe that he has to deal with, but such an action won’t get far, if the NTC does not butt in and harass potential players in the market. Besides, we are already hearing news about San Miguel stepping into the fray, which goes to show two things:
1. The industry is indeed overregulated, with only the biggest and politically connected firms able to pose a significant threat;
2. In spite of such regulations, there will always be a countering force, even if this comes in the form of a (former?) crony company, San Miguel.
In conclusion, as long as the profit motive is allowed to proliferate, we won’t have to worry about ‘unlimited’ call and text services being cut off. If it enriched Sun during the Gokongwei days, it will continue to be a lucrative service up until consumer preferences evolve over time towards something else entirely; that is, unless the NTC, BIR, DTI, SEC, etc. mess things up for everyone.