I had a meeting this afternoon with a friend who operates a telephone company in my home province of Mindoro. He is complaining, because the recent PLDT response to the Sun 24/7 gimmick is killing traffic to our province.
The telco price war began when John Gokongwei's Sun cellular offered a service at a flat rate for all calls within the Sun network. Apparently, the pricing scheme worked as Sun was able to entice three million subscribers -- something which took Globe and Smart longer to achieve in the early years of the cellular phone in the Philippines.
PLDT responded with a month-long promo, which introduced a flat rate of PHP 10 per call within the PLDT network nationwide, and PLDT across the SMART and Talk n Text networks. Naturally, it may have stopped the turn-over of people from Smart and Talk n Text to Sun, but the other immediate effect is to congest the PLDT lines. According to my friend, PLDT landline calls to Naujan, Mindoro are having a hard time connecting, because the PLDT Batangas exchange, where Naujan's traffic passess through, is clogged up. As a result, Naujan's residents with landlines are isolated from the country, and even the world -- because international calls to Naujan, Mindoro also pass through Batangas. According to my friend, if this continues, he may have to close his small telephone company, and watch as his subscribers switch to Smart and Talk N' Text.
The main problem with this price war is that it is really going to generate a lot of useless chatter. People are going to call each other regardless if the call is necessary to relay important information or just loose talk. Worse, as usual, we can expect more loose talk to occupy phone bandwidth, which will make it hard for inportant information to pass through our phone lines. The telebabad's will take over. As a result, we are going to ruin the greatest thing which happened to Philippine communications since the invention of the telephone. What's the use of having a cellular phone if you can't connect because people are abusing it?
I used to think that Sun's John Gokongwei and PLDT's Manny Pangilinan were in a certain class of businessmen -- the types who will not think only of short term profits but also of long term benefits to their companies and their patrons, as well. But this telco price has proven me wrong. They all appear to be in the same league as this movie producer, back in those days when she produced those stupid movies with her so-called babies that made a lot of money for her movie company, but ruined an entire generation's value system.
I wonder what are we going to ruin next?