MANILA - The Philippines' antitrust agency said on Friday it will investigate allegations that its major telecoms firms abused their dominant market positions to make it difficult for a China-backed newcomer to connect to their networks.
The agency said it would open a preliminary inquiry into the allegations made by DITO Telecommunity, which launched in 2021 and is 40% owned by China Telecom, against the country's two other networks, PLDT and Globe Telecom.
DITO and Globe said in separate statements that they welcomed the probe. PLDT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
DITO, which filed the complaint on Aug. 8, has alleged that its rivals failed to provide "sufficient interconnection capacity", making it difficult for its subscribers to call the two networks. Globe and PLDT have denied this in previous statements.
Separately, Globe and PLDT have claimed they have detected "fraudulent calls" from DITO's network to their subscribers, which DITO denies. Globe has said it is seeking a 622 million pesos ($11 million) fine from DITO related to the calls.
DITO has around 11 million subscribers in the Philippines, a country of more than 110 million people. PLDT and Globe had 69.4 million and 87.4 million mobile subscribers, respectively, as of end-June.
DITO is controlled by Dennis Uy, a tycoon and the top campaign donor of former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. His firm has insisted there was no conflict of interest.
($1 = 56.05 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by John Geddie)