The merrymaking during the yuletide season has brought with it the steady influx of shoppers flooding our malls and shopping centers. They have increased the volume of traffic plying the main thoroughfares of the metropolis.
Adding to the holiday stress is another side effect caused by the severe traffic—the inefficiency of telecommunication companies to handle the added demand on their services during the rush hours. This happens because when people get stuck in traffic, commuters in particular, turn to their gadgets to “kill” time and avoid boredom.
The latest data on mobile telephone subscribers show that the number of mobile subscribers in the Philippines, now at 100 million, is expected to reach 117 million by next year. With this number of subscribers, more than two billion SMS messages are reportedly being sent every day in any normal day. Think how much this expands during peak of rush hours of the holiday season.
Beyond the volume of text messages sent back and forth, there are those who prefer to update their social network accounts, watch movies or listen to music online, or play games —all of which put a heavier demand on the current available band width offered by the telcos. Unavoidably, services suffer and communications break down because these service providers have not considered the need to expand their hardware, such as the introduction of additional repeaters for one.
Additionally, there is the obvious fact that these telco giants are over-subscribed already even as none of them would admit to this. Their equipment and infrastructure are not capable of handling the volume of communication services required by their subscribers. For this reason, I am very sure that majority of us have experienced a rise in the number of dropped calls or incidents when we are told that our phones have been unavailable, particularly during the times we are on the road trying to navigate heavy traffic.
It is no secret that the telcos have been raking in insane amounts of profits, more than enough to cover the fat salaries and kind bonuses of their management executives. They should therefore be more sensitive to the needs and priorities of their consumers and include in their annual plans the progressive update of their platforms and systems instead of just focusing on getting the lion’s share of the market. If they cannot do this, then we should seriously consider the entry of a third party provider.
While the top two telcos are the biggest players in the market, I believe that there are a lot of opportunities for the smaller ones that may just need a sizable investment to grow and scale. Government should look into this and sincerely push to protect consumer rights and interest instead of being inutile and at times even lawyering for the interest of the telcos.
If government allows third-party providers to come and facilitate a more vigorous competitive environment, perhaps this might induce the bigwigs to finally be more concerned in serving the interests of their subscribers instead of just focusing on strategies on how to milk more profits from them. Currently the situation is simply too comfortable for telcos such that they cannot be induced to go out of their way to ensure customer service satisfaction.
Recently, a number of third-party providers have categorically stated that the Philippine market is ripe for them because of the low level of service of the current providers. Maybe it is high time that we considered their suggestion.