If Your Condo Is Forcing You to Subscribe to a Specific ISP, You Can Report Them to the PCC
Everybody deserves internet, but you have the right to choose a service provider which one based on your needs and budget. You can’t be forced to subscribe to one based on the whims of your landlord or condo developer.
That’s exactly what happened to a condominium developer in Mandaluyong. The Philippine Competition Commission said it had charged Greenfield Development Corporation (Greenfield Corp.) and its wholly owned subsidiary Leopard Connectivity Business Solutions Inc. for supplying exclusive fixed-line internet to the residential units of Twin Oaks Place (TOP) in Greenfield District.
According to the PCC news release, condo residents were unable to subscribe to their preferred ISP and were instead limited to the condo's in-house provider, which is also owned by the developer.
The Statement of Objections was filed on December 29, 2020, but the PCC only made the charges public on Monday.
According to the PCC, Greenfield Corp. is both the property developer of TOP and owner of Leopard Connectivity, with the latter managing the Twin Oaks Place Fiber Network (TOPFN) that provides fixed-line internet in all Greenfield properties, including TOP.
TOP residents complained to the PCC and said they were not given access to an alternative ISP “despite Leopard’s higher prices, slower speed, and unreliability of internet connection.”
Leopard reportedly charges P2,699/month for 20 Mbps, which the PCC said could have fetched 50 to 75 Mbps from other ISPs. Leopard’s 40 Mbps costs P3,500/month, which is about the same price for other ISPs offer of 100 to 150 Mbps.
The PCC’s Enforcement Office, which is the agency’s investigative and prosecutorial arm, alleged that Greenfield and Leopard “abused their dominance as TOP’s property developer and fixed-line internet provider by preventing the entry of other ISPs to provide their services to residents and limiting the market to Leopard as sole ISP, in violation of the Philippine Competition Act.”
TOP marketed itself as a smart home, but this doesn’t mean it needed to rely on the services of Leopard as an ISP. “The automation features of TOP will still work even if a condominium unit is subscribed to another internet provider,” the PCC said.
“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,” said PCC Enforcement Director Orlando P. Polina. “After all, the competition law does not prevent condominiums to offer their own ISPs, provided other options are made available to residents.”
“Abuse of dominance cases are evaluated with the end view of dismantling exploitative and exclusionary practices in business and ultimately empowering consumer choice,” added PCC Chair Arsenio M. Balisacan. “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.”