The telecommunications market in the Philippines has been dominated by Smart Communications, owned by PLDT, and Globe Telecom for quite some time. If you are in the Philippines and you talk phones or mobile internet, you end up dragging Smart or Globe into the conversation. There have been other telecoms that tried to compete with the two giants but they ended up closing shop, or being gobbled up through acquisition. Sun Cellular is also a dominant player, but it is now owned by PLDT.
San Miguel Corporation, a conglomerate that is a major force in the food and beverage market, has dipped its toes in the telecommunications sphere through the Wi-Tribe brand, operated by its subsidiary Liberty Telecom. We all know that Wi-Tribe is struggling and it has failed to match the service of Smart or Globe. However, the Philippine telecom market could change very soon.
Reports have it that Telstra, an Australian telecom company, is in talks with San Miguel for a joint venture that would bring its technology and expertise to the Philippines.
This Telstra logo could soon become a common sight in the Philippines
Telstra has been quoted saying that the Philippines is a potentially lucrative market since it has a dense population but lacks high-speed 4G services. It is true that there is so much potential in the Philippines but Smart and Globe could make it difficult for Telstra to succeed.
In the planned joint venture between Telstra and San Miguel, Telstra is expected to use its engineering expertise and funding while San Miguel will provide its local business strengths and its mobile spectrum holdings. San Miguel is said to own around 100 megahertz in the 700MHz band, said to be ideal for 4G mobile broadband. The plan is to provide high speed mobile internet at a cheap price.
The entry of Telstra into the Philippine mobile broadband market augurs well for Filipino mobile internet users. If Telstra can successfully provide fast internet at low price, Smart and Globe will definitely answer with cheap plans or offerings. The winner, clearly, will be the consuming public.
Before we all get excited, however, we should note that Telstra’s entry into the Philippine market is not a done deal. Although Telstra is in talks with San Miguel, a lot of things could happen that can hamper its plans. But if everything goes well with the talks, we could be experiencing cheap mobile internet by 2016 courtesy of Telstra and San Miguel.
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