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5 Philippine Tech Stories To Monitor Closely This 2016

What big news should we watch out for this year?

2016 is going to be a big year for tech. Not just for gadgets, mind you, but for a lot of other things – so we came up with five news stories that you should watch out for this year.


Will Globe and PLDT Wrestle the 700MHz Spectrum from San Miguel?

By now it’s not a secret that San Miguel is looking to score big with Australian telco Telstra, if things go according to plan. But Telstra and San Miguel’s eventual partnership isn’t smooth sailing as San Miguel is facing a legal tussle in regards to the 700MHz spectrum. In layman’s terms a spectrum is the electronic airspace that makes wireless data (and a host of other things) possible, and the 700MHz spectrum currently held by San Miguel is the most desirable of the bunch, as it reaches farther and penetrates deeper than the ones currently being held by Globe and Smart.

PLDT is crying foul because they say that the 700MHz spectrum assigned to San Miguel was granted with the assumption that it would be used for broadcast purposes only and not for mobile communications purposes, according to their head of Regulatory Affairs Ray, Espinosa. They and fellow rival Globe are demanding that the NTC compel San Miguel to share the spectrum, which would put a big kibosh on the plans of San Miguel and Tesltra, as the 700MHz spectrum gives both companies a distinct advantage over the incumbent players.

San Miguel is in for an uphill struggle as it tries to finalize the deal with Telstra and bring in a third player, but there’s still hope. Edgardo Cabarios, the head of the regulatory commision of the National Telecommunications Commision earlier said that it would be difficult for them to recall and reassign the frequency that’s already with San Miguel.


Telstra-San Miguel Partnership: Will It Materialize?

One of our biggest stories last year was our debunking of the widely held belief that the deal with San Miguel and Australian telco Telstra was done. Sorry guys, it’s not and as of writing neither San Miguel or Telstra have announced anything as of yet. The sad fact is that There’s a lot of things that need to be done behind the scenes for the deal to push through, and one of those things is money – lots and lots of money.

Telstra has earlier remarked that they have earmarked around a billion dollars if ever their PH expansion plans pull through. Because of our foreign ownership laws, their eventual stake in the joint venture will only be 40% – San Miguel will need to pony up the rest of the cash.

Because of the nature of their negotiations, there’s really not a lot that we can say about the deal, but one thing is for certain – there will be a third telco in the PH this year. While the NTC has earlier said that it would be difficult to re-assign the spectrum that’s already with San Miguel (namely the highly desirable 700MHz range), non-use of that spectrum are grounds for the government body to reconsider their earlier stance and force San Miguel to share it with their competitors. Rumors tell us that San Miguel is ready (and is already testing the services with its employees) to move forward on their own if their talks with Telstra collapse.


Mobile Internet Speed in the Philippines: Will It Ever Get Better?

It’s a sad fact in life that our internet speeds aren’t the best. To put it mildy, our mobile internet speeds suck, regardless of telco. That’s probably why anything Telstra-related manages to crash Unbox’s servers whenever we publish it – Filipinos want something better. Well, nothing drives service more than competition, and just like what we said earlier, chances are there will be a third telco in our country come this year.

With the new telco will come better speeds and better deals. Just last year we saw the introduction of fast, unlimited fiber plans from both Globe and PLDT during the height of the Telstra rumors. While both telcos will probably tell you that they intended to come out with those plans regardless, you can’t deny that their timing was a little too perfect for it to be just coincidence. We’re expecting the same thing to happen this year – both telcos have no choice but to increase speeds and offer better value for their customers or they’ll see them walk out to their competitor in droves.


How Will Social Media Affect the 2016 Presidential Elections?

This year’s presidential election is a coming of age of sorts as far as social media is concerned. And while Facebook and Twitter has been around back in 2010, the number of users of both but specifically Facebook, has increased – according to We Are Social, the PH now has 44.2 million active internet users, with 40 million of those having active social media accounts. That’s already a large swath of the population, and the most visited social media website of choice for those 40 million citizens? Facebook.

social-media-stats-in-the-philippines-2015-9-638 2015-Social-network-popularity-by-country

Even now, a few months before the start of the official campaign period, a social media war is being waged by each candidate on Facebook. You’ve probably seen some of that on your wall or the wall of your friends and loved ones. Public sentiment is no longer swayed in newsrooms and TV stations – it’s now being influenced on your phone, tablet and PC. This year’s election can be likened to the 2008 US election, where social media was used extensively by Barack Obama to create broad appeal to young voters and internet savvy users. That’s probably not lost on the top presidential candidates this year, and as more and more people go digital, more of them will get their news (accurate or not) from social media and through Facebook. In short, a candidate that knows how to play the social media game in the Philippines has a very good chance of winning the elections.

Xurpas is responsible for the excellent Run Run Super V

More Start-ups to IPO? Will there be Another Xurpas this year?

One of the main goals of every small, budding startup is to get valuable enough for an IPO, or initial public offering. It’s one of the signs that a company has hit the big leagues. Local tech firm Xurpas managed to score big when it offered its IPO last year, surpassing expectations by hitting P1.37 billion. The local tech scene is rife with startups, thanks largely to the efforts of incubators like Kickstart Ventures and Ideaspace Foundation. These incubators look for the most promising talent, giving them money, a place to work and guidance to develop their ideas. With the demand for mobile apps skyrocketing and digital becoming the new norm, there’s big opportunity for local startups to hit the big leagues – the next killer app may just come from the Philippines.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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