The anti-trust government body Philippine Competition Commission filed a case against a condominium developer in Mandaluyong City for allegedly restricting its residents to its in-house exclusive internet service provider and preventing entry of competitors.
In a recent statement, the PCC enforcement office alleged that Greenfield and Leopard abused their dominance as the property’s developer and fixed-line internet provider by preventing other ISPs from providing their services to residents, thereby limiting the market to Leopard as sole ISP, in violation of the Philippine Competition Law.
Section 15 of the Philippine Competition Law “prohibits exploitative and exclusionary conduct that substantially lessens competition.”
The PCC said residents protested that they were not free to choose other ISPs while claiming that Leopard charges higher for weaker service.
Greenfield Development Corp., a property developer that manages Twin Oaks Place, wholly-owns the Leopard Connectivity Business Solutions Inc. which supplies exclusive fixed-line internet to TOP in Greenfield District.
The PCC said its enforcement unit charged Greenfield Corp. and Leopard for supplying exclusive fixed-line internet to the residential units of Twin Oaks Place in Greenfield District in violation of R.A. 10667.
PCC chair Arsenio Balicasan said the “abuse of dominance cases are evaluated with the end view of dismantling exploitative and exclusionary practices in business and ultimately empowering consumer choice.”
“Under the Philippine Competition Act, an entity found to have abused its dominance in the market could face a fine of up to P110 million,” Balisacan said.
According to complaints submitted to PCC investigators, TOP residents said they had no freedom to choose alternative ISPs despite Leopard’s higher prices, slower speed and unreliability of internet connection.
The PCC quoted TOP complaint as stating that, “Leopard charges P2,699/month for 20 Mbps, which is not commensurate to other ISPs’ 50 to 75 Mbps but at the same price point.
“Its 40 Mbps costs P3,500/month, which is almost on par with the 100-150 Mbps that other ISPs can offer,” the complaint added.
Major fixed-line and wireless broadband service providers available in Mandaluyong City are Globe Telecom, Converge and PLDT-Smart Communications.
In a separate statement, Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) secretary-general Patrick Climaco said, “this exploitative practice of cornering internet access violates the fundamental right of free choice of consumers, and more often than not, these internet providers not only do not meet the speed demands of its consumers, but also bore a hole in the user’s pockets as the prices are not commensurate to their desired output leaving them spending more for poor services.”
“Healthy competition alone can provide users more choices, improve the quality of its output, and help to motivate people to put in that extra effort and perform at a higher level than they might have done otherwise. It can also give extra drive and ambition that help providers to do more. More often than not, the results of competition are far more positive than having no competition,” Climaco said.
PCC enforcement director Orlando Polinar said that “as more Filipinos shift to working and learning from home under the new normal, property developers competing for the market of digital connectivity should not resort to unduly foreclosing competition and restricting choices for consumers but compete on fair terms”.
“After all, the competition law does not prevent condominiums to offer their own ISPs, provided other options are made available to residents,” he said.