President Duterte has repeatedly stated his preference for a Chinese firm to partner with, but time may be runnning out for China Telecom

The Philippines’ race to launch a third telecoms operator in the country has taken an unexpected turn, with the emergence of interest from an as yet unnamed player from South Korea.

President Duterte has repeatedly expressed his desire to get a new telecoms operator up and running as quickly as possible, to dramatically improve coverage in the South East Asian nation. Recently, however, a proposed deal with China Telecom appears to have stalled, creating frustration on the Filipino side.

In a statement to the Filipino Stock Exchange, the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp revealed that it had entered into discussions with an unnamed South Korean player about forming a third telco in The Philippines.

“Disclosure will be made as soon as an agreement has been finalised with the South Korean telecom firm… PT&T is bound by a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting it from disclosing the identity of the said Korean firm,” it read.

On Tuesday,  presidential communications operations secretary ,Martin Andanar, gave the clearest sign yet that the Filipino government may not be prepared to wait for a deal with China Telecom to materialise.

President Duterte has repeatedly stated that he wants The Philippines’ new telco to be operational be the first quarter of 2018. However, this looks increasingly unlikely as negotiations continue to drag on.