On the lower half of the front page of today’s paper, there is a picture of Camille Villar, managing director of Vista Land, alongside Gary Valenciano. The caption describes the event as the grand Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at Vista Mall, of which there are 25 branches all over the Philippines.
Vista Land is the name given to the Villar family’s property development company, which has subdivisions in about 100 cities and municipalities. With more than 300,000 houses solidifying its presence in the country, Vista Land intends to add office spaces and extend its reach to 200 cities and municipalities. Now, the company sets its sights on providing high speed internet to those residential communities.
As early as March this year, Manuel Paolo Villar, son of businessman and former presidential aspirant Manuel Villar, Jr., had announced their family’s plan to become a player in the telecommunications (telco) industry. The younger Villar, the CEO of Vista Land, stated that the Villar group had been planning entry for some time, seeing good strategy in providing fixed-line broadband to their subdivisions.
Villar had gone further to say that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration would welcome more competition in a field controlled by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Ayala’s Globe Telecom. Smart Communications is a subsidiary of PLDT.
Echoing Villar’s statement, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has stated that it is good when consumers are given choices for its telco providers. Incidentally, the PCC has been lobbying for mobile number portability, which lets users keep their mobile numbers after changing telco providers.
Streamtech Systems Technology, Inc. is the name of the company representing the Villars’ interest. Streamtech was the subject of a house measure filed last year with the end in view of allowing the company to “construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain telecommunications systems in the Philippines for commercial purposes and in the public interest.”
Fast forward to the present, and the House of Representatives has approved that Congressional measure. Currently, it has been forwarded to the Senate for approval.
One may wonder why it took so long before anyone got the idea to try and make some profit from the telco industry. According to Sean Gowran, who is Ericsson’s country head for the Philippines and the Pacific Islands, capital spending in such endeavor would be the main reason.
He estimates that it would take around $10 billion in a span of five years and a waiting term that could take up to 25 years before a company could even break even. Not to be overwhelmed by the figures, however, Villar opines that fixed-line broadband is a competitive product that would likely be profitable.
Villar even envisions eventually expanding into mobile business and mentioned that they would entertain foreign partners.
With that in mind, it will not be too surprising to see a photo of another Villar scion in the paper, announcing a new player officially entered into the telco industry. When that happens, another choice is offered to the Filipino consumer, who ultimately benefits from the enterprise.