For PH telcos that have long embraced China tech, Biden shift won’t matter

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A Biden-led White House would have little impact on local telecommunications players even if the United States continued its crackdown on Chinese technology companies.

For China Telecom-backed Dito Telecommunity’s top official, it is too late to reverse the domestic industry’s shift to Chinese network gear and technology.

“Adoption of Chinese tech has been on the rise since over five years ago, with clear demonstrated advantage in 4G LTE tech and now in 5G, both in network elements and smart handset space,” Ernesto Alberto, president of Dito CME Holdings, told the Inquirer. Dito CME Holdings will become the holding company of DitoTel, which is also backed by China Telecom.

Alberto, the previous No. 2 executive at PLDT while the company pivoted to suppliers such as China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., said sanctions that arose from a trade row with the United States were also less of a priority during the pandemic.

“The continuing global pandemic is still of primary concern by all and will put a possible US economic sanction coalition versus China to the backseat,” Alberto said.

PLDT and Globe have earlier vouched for the superiority and cost-effectiveness of technology suppliers such as Huawei.

This reliance will only deepen as both companies lay the groundwork for 5G, the next-generation mobile standard where Huawei is waging a global battle with European and American technology giants.

According to Eliseo Rio Jr., former acting secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), over 85 percent of PLDT subsidiary Smart’s and Globe’s networks are supplied by the Chinese.

Globe and Smart said they would diversify their networks to include established suppliers such as Finnish firm Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson to ease spying worries from China.

Rio said this would help local telecommunications players—which also serve global US and European companies operating in the Philippines—meet stringent requirements under the US government’s Clean Network Program.

According to the US State Department, the program is meant to protect companies and citizens “from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.”

Rio explained the Clean Network program was designed to prevent companies with banned Chinese telecom equipment to connect to “clean” US networks.

With a more diverse set of technology suppliers, Rio said the telcos could “create within their networks a dome of clean networks that would allow their subscribers to connect to other clean networks.” INQ


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