28 April 2010

PLDT to interconnect Clark, Subic telecoms

The country’s biggest telecommunication firm has recently approved the interconnection of its two service areas in the Clark and Subic Bay free-port zones.

Lito Mercado, general manager of Clarktel, a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), said the approval of the interconnection of telecommunication between the two free-port zones is in conformity with the mandate of Subic and Clark as the country’s two best investment destinations that provide world-class infrastructure and utilities.

Although investors and locators from the two zones are expected to save on their long-distance telephone calls, Mercado said the Clark and Subic telecom firms will be losing about P2.5 million to P3 million per annum once the interconnection project is implemented.

The interconnection is expected to take effect by the middle of next month based on information provided to Mercado by Subic and Clark Telecom president Dennis Magbatoc.

However, despite the toll-free calls, Mercado said Clark and Subic will still have to use their respective area codes—045 for Clark (Pampanga) and 047 for Subic (Zambales).

“But definitely, calls for both free ports will be free of charge,” he said.

Mercado said Magbatoc was instrumental in the realization of the interconnection project through the initiative of the Subic Clark Alliance for Development Council, the influential Metro Clark Advisory Council, the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

“Doing business in Clark will be made easier with the toll-free calls between Clark and Subic, considering its impact on the day-to-day operations of the investors in both free-port zones,” he said.

He pointed out that the integration earlier of the telephone infrastructure in Pampanga has given Clark a competitive edge and with the same integration of the service lines between Subic and Clark, the competitiveness of both investment destinations is expected to improve further.

Although PLDT will shoulder the interconnection fees, including the losses in long-distance calls, investors in Clark expressed elation over the integration and interconnection of Clark and Subic because it will open more “windows of opportunities” not only for the two free-port zones, but for Central Luzon as well.

With the integration of Clarktel with all telecom providers in Pampanga in 2004, CDC was able to save about P100,000 a month (or P1.2 million annually) on long-distance calls since the interconnection was implemented.

The amount saved on local long-distance calls through the interconnection project will instead be used to finance other CDC projects as part of the social corporate responsibility of the state-owned firm. (Jacob Cunanan, Business Mirror)