PCC files case against condo firm for allowing only one Internet provider

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has filed a case against a mass housing developer for violating antitrust laws when it designated an exclusive Internet service provider for those living in its residential project in Tondo, Manila.

In a statement on Monday, April 8, the PCC said its enforcement unit charged 8990 Holdings Inc. and its subsidiary Urban Deca Homes Manila Condominium Corporation for abuse of dominance for engaging in an exclusive partnership with Internet service provider (ISP) Itech Rar Solutions Inc. to provide connectivity to its residents and tenants.

The initiative by the competition watchdog aims to urge the condominium developer not to restrict its unit owners of their choice of ISPs that can deliver quality fixed-line Internet services.

“Through this case, the PCC Enforcement Office intends to stop the property manager and developer from limiting the market for fixed-line Internet so third-party providers may enter such market under reasonable terms and offer choices to the residents,” PCC Enforcement Office director Orlando Polinar said.

“This is a fair warning to businesses that resort to exclusive partnerships to corner profit and hinder the entry of other competitors in exercise of its market power. This act of abuse of dominance limits the choices made available to residents and is a violation of the competition law,” he added.

An investigation conducted by the Enforcement Office determined that the company’s exclusive partnership with one ISP prevented the entry and access of other providers in Urban Deca Homes Manila.

It also found that Urban Deca Homes Manila’s property manager blocked other ISPs from installing fixed-line Internet on units and from marketing their services to interested residents.

The probe was conducted by the PCC after it has received numerous complaints filed by unit owners and tenants of Urban Deca Homes Manila claiming they were prevented from applying for other ISPs when the in-house “Fiber to Deca Homes” service was slow and expensive.

Residents complained that “Fiber to Deca Homes” charges P1,249 for 2Mbps, which is almost equivalent to a 5Mbps plan from other service providers, while its 5Mbps monthly plan of P2,599 only costs P1,299 from other networks. Its 6Mbps service costs P2,949 which is equivalent to 50Mbps from one ISP, and almost the same price for 100Mbps from another ISP.

Urban Deca Homes Manila is a low-cost condominium that is part of the property portfolio of 8990 Holdings, Inc. developed by Euson Realty and Development Corporation and Tondo Holdings Corporation.

The exclusive deal between Urban Deca Homes Manila and Itech Rar Solutions Inc. was the first abuse of market dominance case filed before the PCC in violation of the Philippine Competition Act which prohibits abuses of dominant position and other anti-competitive practices in the market.

The Philippine Competition Act may impose a fine of up to P100 million against an entity found to have abused its dominance in the market. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)

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