Displaying items by tag: Philippines

Philippine telco taps Huawei for $28.5m project

Written on Sunday, 21 January 2018 11:43

Philippine telecom and digital services provider PLDT and its mobile unit Smart Communications announced a US$28.5 million partnership with global information and communications technology leader Huawei to transform the group's wireless service delivery platforms.

This project is part of PLDT Group's massive capital expenditure program for the continuing overhaul of its fixed and wireless networks infrastructure and their information technology system which is expected to exceed P50 billion in 2018.

"This partnership will enable PLDT Group's wireless services under the brands PLDT, Smart, Sun and TNT to become much more agile, efficient and resilient in developing and delivering a growing array of digital services,” said PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

“Under the 15-month agreement, Huawei will improve Smart’s online charging platforms and electronic loading for prepaid subscribers,” added Ray C. Espinosa, PLDT Group Chief Corporate Services Officer. “This involves consolidating similar applications for different brands under one system and streamlining business processes through a unified platform and simplified processes,” he said.

As a result, PLDT, Smart, Sun and TNT will be able to offer more personalized offers and rewards for their customers. PLDT’s wireless services will also be able to offer bundled services more quickly and efficiently. All these will significantly improve customer experience, PLDT claims.

“Through this partnership, our customers will have quick and ready access to the services that they value and enjoy,” said PLDT Group Chief Business Transformation Officer Victorico P. Vargas. "This is part of our broader effort to overhaul our IT systems so that we can leapfrog our ability to deliver best-in-class wireless services.

“By leveraging deep understanding of PLDT and our worldwide experience, Huawei proposed our industry leading OCS and eLoad Solutions to accelerate PLDT’s evolution in the digital market through this transformation program,” said Mr. Wilson Zang, President of Huawei Revenue Management product line. “Huawei is confident we can successfully deliver this critical program in a timely way together with PLDT.”

Huawei Revenue Management Software Solutions, including OCS and eLoad, enable the services of more than 1.7 billion subscribers at over 190 CSPs, across 107 countries. Huawei is enabling the digital transformation of Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and on the evolution of revenue management towards the monetization platforms of the future.  

Published in Telecom Operators

FinTech growth allowing Filipinos access to banking needs

Written on Sunday, 01 October 2017 09:04

Filipinos can now avail of affordable financial products and services such as mobile banking, remittance, insurance, loans and credit as the use of technology and innovation continues to grow in the Philippines, according to Mynt, the financial Technology (FinTech) arm of Philippines telecom provider Globe Telecom.

“There is really a dire need for financial inclusion in the country since many Filipinos still do not have bank accounts as well as access to formal lending and credit,” said Albert Tinio, President of GCash, the micro-payment company of Mynt. “But due to FinTech innovations, even those in remote areas can take advantage of a wide range of financial services in the market today.”

According to Tinio, about 70 percent of Filipinos do not have bank accounts or any formal means to save money while 90 percent of Filipinos do not have a credit score, making it difficult for them to secure a loan. It also forces some individuals to turn to informal lenders which charge interest rates of as high as 20 percent. Moreover, 40 percent of cities and municipalities do not have physical banks, thus, residents have to spend a lot of time, effort, and money to get to the nearest bank.

Globe Telecom has allowed Mynt to address these concerns by building a financially inclusive ecosystem, said Tinio speaking at the recent 5th Regional Competitiveness Summit. Since telecom companies are in a unique position to penetrate even far-flung areas through mobile services, Mynt was able to leverage on the capability and infrastructure of Globe to offer FinTech to anyone, anytime and anywhere, he explained.

“GCash, for instance, already experienced hyper growth for the past 1.5 years through the use of technology and innovation,” Tinio said. “With GCash, customers can buy load, send and receive remittances, purchase goods and services, pay government fees or taxes online, among others. These have been part of our financial inclusion advocacy and eventually, we want to become a global payment solutions brand.”

Globe Telecom, one of the Philippines’ largest telecommunications providers, has launched the US$250 million Southeast Asia-United States (SEA-US) submarine cable system, providing direct links between Davao City and the United States. The 14,500-kilometer cable system uses 100Gbps transmission technology to deliver 20 terabits per second capacity (Tb/s).

The SEA-US cable system was built by a consortium of seven international telecommunications companies and links five areas and territories that include Manado (Indonesia), Davao (Philippines), Piti (Guam), Oahu (Hawaii, United States), and Los Angeles (California, United States).

“It is important to keep our country competitive. We are sworn and bound by our duty to keep on improving the internet. This signals our entry towards first world internet,” Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu said during its launching event on August 11 at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

He said that the SEA-US submarine cable system would enable to support the growth of businesses in Mindanao and lessen the country’s dependence on international cable systems for its internet connection.

“First world connection is more than just fast internet but is also about building a better nation that transcends borders and opens infinite possibilities for everyone,” said Cu. “We are excited about this development because of the immense benefits that the SEA-US undersea cable system will bring to the Philippines.

Cu added: “For one, it will provide support for the expanding business requirement for data in the Mindanao region where the cable landing station is located and in the country as a whole. This will also ease our dependence on international cable systems and ensure the resiliency of the country’s internet connectivity.”

The SEA-US cable system is connected to the Globe cable landing station in Brgy. Talomo, Davao City, which also houses the power feed equipment necessary to run the system. Outside of Luzon, the undersea cable is the first direct connection of Globe to the United States via Guam, Hawaii, and California, offering faster transmission of data to the US.

It also bypasses the Taiwan earthquake zone to ensure uninterrupted connectivity and greater resiliency to prevent an incident similar to a major quake in 2006 where international cables were broken causing the Philippines to be isolated for a few days in terms of internet connection.

Aside from forming part of the SEA-US consortium, Globe is also a member of an international consortium of telecommunications and technology companies, operating the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) system.

SJC is an 8,900-kilometer cable system linking seven territories that include Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines, including the option to link with Thailand. The cable infrastructure is currently being upgraded to bring an increase of 6.5 Tb/s capacity with state of the art 100G technology.

Published in Infrastructure

Ride-sharing app service Uber has responded to a one-month ban in the Philippines by appealing to authorities on August 15. The company resumed services as it waited for a decision, Reuters reported. The suspension is one of many issues the Californian firm has faced recently, including controversy surrounding its former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Uber’s services in the Philippines were halted on August 14 by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) because the company ignored an order to stop accepting new driver applications. Despite the ban, Uber maintains a strong following in the country. Citizens lashed out at authorities on social media calling for Uber to continue its services.

The Philippines lacks in areas of reliable and competitive public transport, hence Uber’s popularity on the island nation. The company said it had the right to due process in its appeal to the LTFRB, and wanted a stay of implementation of the suspension.

Uber posted on Facebook, “This means that Uber’s operations will continue until the motion is resolved.” It added: “Over the course of this morning, tens of thousands of riders were left stranded, causing needless inconvenience, while drivers were unable to access the earning opportunities they rely on.”

Uber, one of the world’s most affluent startups valued at upwards of $60 billion, has faced a number of controversies over the past year. Taiwan banned the service for two months at the beginning of 2017, and Uber was only granted permission to continue serving the capital city Taipei by using licensed commercial drivers, rather than its usual private drivers.

A statement on Uber’s website in April it said would now be “partnering with licensed rental car companies to resume serving riders in Taipei… after constructive talks with transportation authorities.” Uber Taiwan’s General Manager, Likai Gu, said the company wants to “partner with more legal transportation service partners in weeks and months to come.”

Uber’s controversy in Taiwan began in 2016 after authorities claimed it was operating unlawfully. Taxi companies are legally required to be domestically owned and operated under Taiwanese law. The company was then forced to suspend its services, after police spent months cracking down on Uber drivers in Taipei.

In the Philippines, the LTFRB stopped accepting and processing applications for all ride-sharing services in 2016, including Uber, to study further how to regulate the industry. Controversy ignited when Uber admitted it was still accepting new driver applications because of strong demand, despite not processing them.

LTFRB responded by suspending Uber’s services, due to the “irresponsible” behavior of Uber in “unduly challenging the limit of fair regulation” by ignoring the LTFRB’s instructions and continuing to accept driver applications.

In Uber’s defense, Grace Poe, a senator and strong advocate for improving transport services in the Philippines, said the LTFRB’s suspension of Uber was “cruel and absurd.” She claimed that suspending the service “further exacerbates the problem of having an utter lack of safe, reliable and convenient transportation options” for the people of the Philippines.

Uber also faced backlash in Europe recently, when Madrid authorities in Spain asked the anti-trust watchdog to investigate whether the company’s new cheap airport transfer service had broken competition rules.

The competition regulator, CNMC, called for the government to lift a ban on Uber last year. But Uber’s new airport service reignited scrutiny, since it offers a tariff of 15-19 euros for a ride between Madrid’s Barajas international airport and the city center, which is cheaper than the standard fixed taxi rate of 30 euros. 

“[Uber Airport] could violate several articles of the Law of Unfair Competition and consumer rights, if it is proven that the service is being operated at prices below operational costs with the sole intention of gaining customers through unfair competition,” said the Madrid City Council in a statement.

In Spain, taxi drivers have gone on strike three times this year, according to reports, arguing that ride-hailing apps like Uber, which are regulated under VTC licenses (an authorization to rent vehicles with driver), often used for private chauffer services, constitute unfair competition because they do not meet the current regulations and pay less tax than taxi services. 

There are currently more than 2,000 VTC-licensed taxis in Madrid, the only Spanish city where Uber is currently active, and about 15,000 traditional taxis, according to figures from the Ministry of Public Works. The European Court of Justice recently ruled that Uber should be defined as a transport service rather than an app.

Internally, Uber’s stability has been rocked by the sensational resignation former chief executive, Travis Kalanick. The co-founder stepped down in late June under increased pressure from investors who raised concerns about his leadership. A growing momentum of voices demanded changes at the helm, and it was the call from investors that ultimately forced Kalanick to concede that his position was untenable. 

One of Uber’s early investors, venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, has accused Kalanick of conspiring to return to his role as CEO. The firm gave Uber and Kalanick a month to review its recommendations on August 14 before filing a lawsuit the week before to force Kalanick off the company’s board and remove the ability for him to return, Reuters said. Kalanick fired back in defense claiming he’s working with the board to place a new chief executive.

“I am disappointed and baffled by Benchmark's hostile actions, which clearly are not in the best interests of Uber and its employees on whose behalf they claim to be acting,” Kalanick said in a statement.

Benchmark Capital, which owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, claimed in the lawsuit, “Indeed, it has appeared at times as if the search [for a new CEO] was being manipulated to deter candidates and create a power vacuum in which Travis could return.”

Founded in 2009, Uber has been a pioneer in the sharing economy. But the company has also been the subject of various protests and legal actions, and was even subject to an investigation of a former employee accused of engaging in sexual harassment. Some analysts claim the organization embodies many of co-founder Kalanick’s pugnacious personality traits. 

Published in Featured

Singapore’s Singtel announced a partnership with Australia’s Optus and the Philippine’s Globe Telecom to collaborate on its social innovation program, Singtel Future Makers. The joint initiative seeks to help enterprising individuals and organizations in Singapore, Australia and the Philippines, which are addressing community needs through the bold, innovative use of technology, to grow and scale their businesses.

Singtel Future Makers 2017 follows the success of the inaugural launch in Singapore and Australia last year, where 18 local social start-ups were selected in both Singapore and Australia from more than 150 applicants. They received mentoring and financial backing to scale up their ideas. The new program will provide successful applicants with more than S$500,000 in cash grants and four months of business workshops, mentoring and coaching support from industry experts.

Through this program, successful applicants will gain a unique opportunity to grow their organizational capabilities, refine their business models and make a bigger social impact. The top participants from Singapore, Australia and the Philippines with the potential to scale their solutions regionally will have the chance to participate in a regional tier of funding and a workshop for regional capability building.

Mr Andrew Buay, Singtel’s Vice President of Group Sustainability said: “We believe in the power of technology and innovation to tackle the challenges faced by the vulnerable in our communities. The fact that many social issues transcend geographical boundaries, makes it all the more important that we expand the Singtel Future Makers program beyond Singapore, to give change makers with the most promising solutions the opportunity to scale regionally.”

“Through Singtel Future Makers, our goal is to nurture a vibrant social innovation ecosystem by collaborating with our associates, partners and social enterprises to deliver greater positive social impact where it matters,” he added.

Ms Yoly Crisanto, Globe Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Chief Sustainability Officer said: “We recognize the impact of technology in addressing many social issues that the country is facing at the moment. By participating in the Singtel Future Makers program, through Globe Future Makers, we help bring out the ecosystem of social innovators that are critical in turning the tide against various social issues like extreme poverty, malnutrition and lack of healthcare, limited access to education and social discrimination.”

“We are looking forward to many participants from the Philippines joining this program and supporting us in doing a Globe of Good,” he added.

Published in Telecom Operators

Singtel delivered a resilient third quarter performance with a strong core business and higher contributions from regional mobile associates. In the core business, ICT revenues grew, bolstered by contract wins by NCS and demand for cyber security services. Higher consumer home services revenue in Singapore and growth in postpaid mobile customer numbers in Australia helped mitigate continued voice to data substitution and roaming revenue declines.

Among the associates, strong performance from Telkomsel offset the impact of very intense competition in India, driving associates' pre-tax contributions up 2% to S$660 million. Operating revenue was down 2%, with the impact of mandated cuts to mobile termination rates in Australia. The Group's underlying net profit for the quarter was up 4% at S$994 million and would have been up 3% in constant currency terms. Net profit was up 2% at S$973 million and would have been stable in constant currency terms.

Ms Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO said, "This is a resilient set of results. We have managed to hold good ground against the backdrop of a slowing Singapore economy and more challenging business environment all around. Our ICT business, particularly cyber security, has held us in good stead. This quarter, we focused on building out our global network of security operation centers while increasing resources in sales and delivery to meet the growing demand for cyber security services. Our consumer business also did well, due primarily to ongoing cost management, the sub-license of Premier League content rights in Singapore and significant growth in branded postpaid mobile customers migrating to higher-tier plans in Australia."

On the associates front, Telkomsel delivered a strong performance with pre-tax profits up 31% on the back of robust growth across data and digital businesses. However, Airtel's pre-tax profits fell 27%, with the combined effects of intensifying competition from a new operator in India, higher spectrum amortization and financing costs, further exacerbated by demonetization.

In Thailand, AIS continued its revenue growth momentum, leveraging its nationwide 4G network that now covers 98% of the population. However, AIS' earnings were affected by higher amortization charges as well as higher costs incurred through the leasing of 2100Mhz spectrum and equipment from TOT. In the Philippines, Globe's earnings increased on stable revenues and tight cost management.

Ms Chua said: "While there are concerns of a global economic slowdown, the growth story in the developing markets where we have invested remains compelling as mobile data usage continued to grow across all our mobile associates. While Airtel India focused on defending scale and market position and AIS incurred higher network costs and charges to maintain its network leadership in Thailand, strong results from our associates in the other regions helped overall contributions to grow. The Group's customer base grew another 2% in the quarter to 640 million customers across the region."

The Group's share of associate's earnings this quarter includes a 21% stake in Intouch and an additional 7.4% stake in Bharti Telecom acquired in November 2016.

The Group has begun preparations for the public listing of NetLink Trust (NLT) given Singtel's undertaking to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to divest its stake in NLT to less than 25% before 22 April 2018.

In July 2011, NLT was established as part of IMDA's effective open access requirements under Singapore's "Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network". Singtel currently owns 100% economic interest in NLT. 

Published in Finance

Nokia and Smart, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PLDT, have achieved 5G speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with latency of just 1 millisecond for the first time in the Philippines over a 'live' network. With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up exciting possibilities for Internet of Things (IoT) applications for Filipinos, particularly in healthcare and smart cities.

Nokia Manila Technology Center and Smart's innovation team will collaborate to conduct joint 5G research for the development of 5G technology. The 5G demo was conducted at Nokia Manila Technology Center in Quezon City, one of its global Research and Development powerhouses for 5G technology. Nokia is at the forefront of 5G research and standardization, and its R&D centers across the globe including the Manila facility, are helping to bring the company's 5G vision closer to reality.

With extremely low latency, 5G will enable a huge number of new use cases, such as remote surgery, real-time responsive robots for automated industrial production, virtual and augmented reality and autonomous driving. Utilizing content created with the Nokia OZO virtual reality (VR) camera, the demo showcased the possibilities enabled through the broadcast of rich, immersive 3D 360 VR content.

The demo also leveraged the Nokia AirFrame Data Center platform to support high performance and low latency requirements. Smart has a proven record of investing in the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine applications, and 5G will be critical in realizing their full vision.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of PLDT and Smart, said: "We are excited to work with Nokia in conducting cutting-edge research and development for 5G. This is a key part of our efforts to transform the PLDT and Smart network into the country's most future-ready data infrastructure delivering a wide range of gigabit digital solutions."

Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart, said: "Smart is committed to enriching the lives of Filipinos by bringing them the best-possible technology. This live demo is part of our initiative to develop 5G capabilities by 2020. We look forward to working with Nokia and taking advantage of its leadership and proven expertise in the 5G space. The demo also underlines our commitment to provide the most relevant services and the best experience to our customers."

Published in Telecom Vendors

Nokia and Globe Telecom, a leading telecom operator in the Philippines, have signed two Memoranda of Confirmation frame agreements - one for wireless technologies and the other for IP, Optical and SDN technologies - under which Nokia will transform Globe Telecom's current fixed and mobile networks into a more robust network that will help Globe meet the country's burgeoning and future digital demands.

Under the agreements, Globe Telecom will transition to a flexible cloud-based network infrastructure, with Nokia's 5G-ready AirScale radio access and IP, optical and carrier SDN technology solutions providing seamless connectivity to consumers and enterprise customers as the operator prepares for IoT and 5G.The modernized Globe network will also allow it to support the Philippine government's initiative to further expand the availability of broadband services in the country.

The mobile network frame agreement between Nokia and Globe Telecom follows the operator's recent access to new LTE spectrum. Nokia will deploy its 4.5G Pro technology using the 5G-ready AirScale Base Station and Flexi Zone small cells, managed by NetAct, in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, providing broadband access to some areas in these regions for the first time.

Globe will also be enabled to use Mobile Edge Computing and advanced carrier aggregation techniques to deliver virtually unlimited scalability and dramatic improvements in speeds and capacity that will deliver compelling new services. The technology will also enable lower power consumption, reduced operating costs, more network automation and enhanced network performance as it transforms Globe Telecom's customer experience for a subscriber base growing at 10 percent annually, as well as meeting increasing demand from IoT devices.

In the second frame agreement, Nokia will deliver its integrated IP and optical networking and carrier SDN technologies across the Philippines to enhance the agility, quality, performance, coverage and capacity of Globe Telecom's enterprise data services network. This will allow Globe to deliver coverage to more regions including in the ARMM, such as Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Using Nokia's carrier SDN platform, Globe will also be able to provide flexible data services such as bandwidth-on-demand nationwide, and expand its offer to thousands of enterprise customers, global service providers and local government agencies as well as those serving the Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO), hospitality, education, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, logistics and finance industries.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Asian cable operators moving to FTTP

Written on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 12:59

Cable operators Cemerland Multimedia (MegaVision) in Indonesia and Converge ICT (CICT) in the Philippines are deploying GPON systems from Calix GPON to provide fiber to customer premises.

According to Calix, both operators are examples of a growing trend among cable operators globally who are making the leap to fiber to meet rising subscriber demand for ultra-high-speed broadband services and an unmatched subscriber experience.

“In the Philippines, Manila-based CICT has already seen an enhanced subscriber experience and more responsive subscriber care as a result of its network transformation to Calix-based GPON technology,” Calix said.

“Through the assistance of Calix channel partner Tel-trade Communication and Development, CICT is utilizing the Calix 813G GigaHub and E7-2 Modular Access System to ready the network for the rollout of new services, including television and high-speed Internet with speeds up to 100Mbps in several cities in northern Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the nation.”

It added: “CICT is also utilizing Calix Open Link Cable software to emulate the OSS interfaces that are used by DOCSIS products to seamlessly integrate GPON into their existing back-office operations.”

MegaVision, based in Indonesia's third largest city, Bandung is also moving away from DOCSIS HFC products to GPON using Calix 801G GigaPoint and E7-2 product, Calix says.

“Working with Calix Channel Partner Twoway Communications to implement this network modernization project, MegaVision is well underway with Phase 1 of this project — a doubling of broadband speeds available in their subscriber service packages,” Calix said.

According to Andy Lockhart, senior vice president of international sales at Calix, both these projects highlight the need for cable operators to transform their networks to fiber to meet the needs of their device-enabled subscribers.

"Each of these operators knew fiber was the path to get them to delivering an unmatched subscriber experience,” he said. “We are seeing more and more cable operators make the move to fiber, both in Southeast Asia and around the globe. Trusted local Calix Channel Partners Twoway and Tel-trade have been instrumental to supporting each of these companies through their respective transformation efforts.”

 

Geostationary satellite operator, SES, has signed a multi-year, multi-transponder agreement with Sky Cable, the largest cable television provider in the Philippines, under which Sky Cable will broadcasting direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV channels via SES satellites at 108.2 degrees East, the SES-9 and NSS-11 satellites.

According to SES, this contracted capacity will enable Sky Cable to effectively roll out a nation-wide DTH satellite TV service across 251 cities and municipalities in the Philippine archipelago, complementing its existing cable offerings.

The recently launched SES-9 is scheduled to enter service mid-year to provide incremental and replacement capacity at SES's 108.2 degrees East location which reaches 22 million homes.

Sky Cable currently offers cable TV services for 55 High Definition (HD) channels to 800,000 subscribers in 19 cities and municipalities in the Philippines.

“The geography of the Philippines presents a unique set of challenges for fiber or terrestrial connectivity. Our satellites are able to overcome these limitations and provide comprehensive and high-powered coverage over the entire archipelago including under-connected areas in the Philippines,” said Deepak Mathur, Senior Vice President Commercial, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at SES.

Published in Satellite Industry