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To begin, some basic concepts and principles are presented to better understand
competition policy and its role in telecommunications. Next we will carefully r
eview the state of competition in Philippine telecommunications by looking at th
e industry structure and the relevant regulation affecting firm conduct particul
arly with respect to pricing. Then, the experiences of local communities after
the introduction of liberalization will be discussed followed by an analysis of
the critical issues undermining the competitive environment. Specific recommend
ations to create a more competitive and efficient telecommunications market are
presented last.
* Funding for this study was pr
ovided under a research grant from the Philippine APEC Study Center Network. Th
e author was acknowledges the research assistance of Ms. Jovie Importante. All
errors are the sole responsibility of the author. This paper was earlier circul
ated as PASCN Discussion Paper series 2000-15. 1 Clark, J.M. Toward a Concept of
Workable Competition, American Economic Review. Vol. XXX No. 2 (June, 1940); 242.
THE ROLE OF COMPETITION POLICY IN PHILIPPINE TELECOMMUNICATIONS
The virtues of competition are well known. Several efficiencies are attained i
n markets where there are many buyers and sellers none of which has market power
, consumers perceive no product differentiation, information is costless, and wh
ere barriers to entry and exit do not exist. Productive efficiency is achieved
because firms are forced to produce goods and services at minimum cost. Allocat
ive efficiency is attained because only the right amount and mix of goods and se
rvices are produced at prices that reflect the opportunity cost of all resources
utilized. Xinefficiency is avoided because the discipline of a competitive mar
ket will punish managerial slack or excesses. Equally important, consumer welfa
re is also maximized under a perfectly competitive market structure.
In reality, most industries do not possess all of the standard characteristics
of a perfectly competitive model from which such efficiencies are supposed to em
anate. In the case of telecommunications, massive capital requirements imply hi
gh barriers to entry and exit especially since a significant portion of fixed co
st incurred is sunk. Telecommunications is also characterized by a network of
switches, transmission links, and terminal or distribution points that give rise
to economies of scale and scope. However, this does not mean that telecommunica
tions is necessarily a natural monopoly. Being multi-product in nature, differe
nt portions of the telecommunications network can be opened to varying degrees o
f competition, although still not to the extent described in a perfectly competi
tive model. Another important characteristic of telecommunications is that it e
njoys network externalities (also referred to as consumption scale economies), w
hich means that the benefits from telecommunications increase with the number of
users that one is able to reach. These economic properties of telecommunicatio
ns have at least two important implications for policy-making and regulation.
First, since the industry is not perfectly competitive then unfettered market ac
tivity cannot be expected to produce outcomes that are always efficient or that
promote consumer welfare. Traditionally, countervailing market power in industr
ies such as telecommunications was simply called regulation (or monopoly regulat

In other countries particularly the U. monopoly pricing. inappropriate structure of public monopolies. This list is simil ar to those of Australia s Hilmer Report. antitrust is not anti-monopoly. and competitive neutrality when government businesses compete with private firms.. (d) policy towards state entry barriers. Given that technological and market conditions have now allowed feasible and desirable entry of competition in some sub-sectors of the industry a more ge neral set of rules under competition policy (which subsumes monopoly regulation) m ust be put in place. To be sure.g. and (e) policy towards consumer protection. of public and private restrictive 2 Planning and Project Coordin ation Division (April 7. In such c ases. the courts apply a rule of reason analysis whereby the reasonableness of t he agreement is determined. advancing and ensuring competi tive market conditions by the removal of control.2 competition policy refers to all laws government policies and r egulations aimed at establishing competition and.g.. 1999). antitrust laws govern the ways in whic h firms are allowed to compete with each other.S. It includes measures aimed at promoting. as well as redressing anti-com petitive results. unjustified regulatory restrictions on competition. denial of access to bottleneck facilities) are the main areas covered by an titrust policy.4 which identifies the six elements of a competition policy as: anti-competitive conduct of firms. An incumbent no t only enjoys certain advantages from being the first mover in the market but it also controls certain facilities that are needed by the entrant for the deliver y of its service. However. price fixing arrangements) and actions by a single firm that hurt rivals (e . A proactive set of rules promoting competition is necessar y to assist entry and ensure that fair competition is maintained particularly si nce an incumbent can use its position to undermine competition. having done so. Agreements among competitors (e . Without rules that explicitly deal with the potential for abu se of the dominant position then efforts to approximate the desirable results of a perfectly competitive market by simply relaxing market entry will not be effe ctive.g.ion). the reduction in transactions costs). not all cooperative agreements ar e considered illegal especially when such arrangements are necessary to achieve pro-competitive purposes (e. According to Patalinghug.5 The second equally important point that needs to be recognized is that even as competition policy attempts to mimic the competitive market..3 the elements of an effective competition p olicy include: (a) policy towards a monopoly. An example of this would be an agreement whose sole purpose is to fix price or restrict output. When no additional inquiry is required to determine whether or not a certain firm behavior violates antitrust laws then such conduct is said to be per se illegal. For exa . tradeoffs among the desirable efficiencies will have to be made.. maintaining th e same. The i ntent of the antitrust laws is primarily to prevent business practices that woul d harm society through the exercise of market power. practices. (c) po licy towards restrictive and anti-competitive practice. As described in the Concept Paper on Competition Law and Policy prepared by the Ta riff Commission. (b) policy towards mergers. deni al of access to certain facilities that are essential for effective competition.