Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Content to drive 3G adoption in RP

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

WILL it be video streaming, video on demand, video calls or mobile television? Mobile phone operators reveal content expected to drive third-generation (3G) mobile technology in the Philippines.

For Globe Telecom, video streaming and video calls are applications expected to drive usage or adoption of third-generation (3G) mobile networks. However, citing the Philippine mobile phone industry's experience with short messaging service (SMS) or texting, their guess is as good as any industry pundit.

Rodolfo Salalima, Globe senior vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs, said "video streaming" or broadcasting short videos to mobile phone subscribers would likely attract more people to 3G.

"But remember texting, nobody knew it would fly when it was introduced," added Salalima. Globe was the local operator who introduced SMS to Filipinos. But it was an application initially marketed for mute subscribers, as attested by a Globe advertisement that came out years back. However, Filipinos found better use for texting, and to date, close to 150 million text messages are being sent a day by close to 40 million subscribers in the country.

Applications based on SMS have also emerged and still are quite popular in the country, despite multimedia messaging service offerings, which allow subscribers to send multimedia messages to others.

"We really to have realistically perceive where demand [for 3G] will come from. We will then offer services based on these [judgment]," the Globe executive said.

Local operators are however sure that 3G services would likely serve a niche market.

"We will see 3G services being deployed in urban areas but our history dictates that we'll also give focus on provincial areas. After the granting of the 3G license, we're expected to rollout 3G services nationwide," said Ramon Isberto, Smart Communications public affairs head.

National Telecommunications Commission chairman Ronald Solis said that 3G services will definitely cater to a niche market in the Philippines. Solis did not specify however which market he was referring to.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Regulator approves Smart’s latest promo

By DARWIN G. AMOJELAR, The Manila Times Reporter

Smart Communications Inc., the Philippines’ leading mobile-phone service provider, will offer flat-rate calls, in what is seen as its response to the pulse-rate promo launched by second-ranked rival, Globe Telecommunications Inc.

Ronald Solis, National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) chief, said the agency approved Smart’s promo, which will be launched under the prepaid brands Smart Buddy, Addict Mobile Prepaid and Smart Kid Prepaid from January 3 to February 1, 2006.

Smart’s move came on the heels of another price war that began when Globe started offering a 10-centavo a second call rate for prepaid and postpaid mobile-phone subscribers.

According to Smart, subscribers who have an airtime balance of at least P3 may avail of its new promo by simply sending to an access number the cellular-phone number through SMS (short messaging service). "Thereafter, the system will check if the calling party’s airtime balance has at least P3. If the calling party’s balance is less than P3, he will receive an SMS notification that he has insufficient balance to make the call. If the balance is at least P3, the network will trigger a callback to the calling party. Once answered, another call will be triggered to the called party," Smart said.

The company said there is no registration required for the promo.

Smart subscribers can download the flat-rate menu by typing CALL and sending it to an access number. It added that all calls will have a maximum duration of five minutes.

The promotional flat-call rates are P3 for 30 seconds and below; P5 for 31 seconds to one minute; P8 for 1.01 minutes to 2 minutes; P10, 2.01 minutes to 3 minutes and P15 for 3.01 minutes to 5 minutes.

The company noted that the SMS call set-up is free.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

PLDT gets NTC nod to make P10/call promo permanent

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star
Telecommunications leader Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) expects a big jump in its subscriber base as well as increased landline usage following the approval by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of its application to make permanent its P10 unlimited call promo.
"After years of a declining subscriber base, our objective for 2006 and beyond is to grow our subscribers. The P10 per call is just one of the many initiatives we intend to launch to meet this objective," PLDT senior vice president for retail business group Butch Jimenez told The STAR.
Starting on Jan. 7, postpaid subscribers of PLDT landlines can make long distance calls to other PLDT subscribers unlimited for a fixed rate of P10 per call. The same rate will apply for calls from PLDT postpaid landline subscribers to Smart mobile subscribers.
The unlimited call rates are available for a minimal monthly subscription fee of P50. Those who do not register their PLDT landline under this promo will be billed PLDT’s regular per minute rates for NDD calls and calls to Smart cellphones.
The PLDT to Smart unlimited call promo was earlier suspended following complaints raised by other telcos before the NTC on the preferential treatment being received by Smart from PLDT.
The NTC has ordered PLDT to work out a scheme whereby the P10 unlimited call can be made to apply to calls to other telcos.
PLDT assistant vice president for long distance retail marketing Gary Dujali revealed that they have already written the other telcos if they want to join the promo, but PLDT has yet to receive a response.
The PLDT landline group has more than two million subscribers which now have the freedom to call over 20 million Smart users for as often and as long as they want for only P10 per call.
Users of Vibe, PLDT’s dial-up Internet service, can also benefit from the PLDT unlimited P10 per call. Non-Vibe subscribers who avail themselves of the service can enjoy a special PLDT Vibe Internet rate at only P5 per hour. Regular rates apply for unregistered calls at p13.75 per minute for PLDT to Smart calls and P5 per minute for PLDT NDD calls.
Dujali expects the permanent unlimited rate to result not only in increased subscribers, but also increased usage and more loyal subscribers, "This promo is aimed at making the landline more relevant," he said.
PLDT’s fixed line service revenues improved to P36.7 billion in the first nine months of 2005 from P35.9 billion in the same period last year due to a significant increase in data revenues.
Quarter-on-quarter, fixed line revenues also grew to P12.5 billion as a result of a recovery in the national long distance and local exchange sectors.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Bulacan leads winners in e-LGU website contest

By Alexander Villafania, INQ7.net

The province of Bulacan led the group of local government units awarded at the recent 2005 LGU Website contest organized by the National Computer Center (NCC).

Bulacan’s website (www.bulacan.gov.ph) won in the independent category for the provincial level, besting the other finalists Bataan, Benguet, Bohol, and Zamboanga del Sur.

The website of Naga City (www.naga.gov.ph) bagged the city level award in the independent category. The other finalists were Escalante City in Negros Occidental, Bayawan in Negros Oriental, Mandaue in Cebu, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental.

The municipality of Trinidad, Bohol won in the independent category on the municipal level.

The independent category refers to LGUs that developed their own websites while the content management system (CMS) category refers to LGUs that use the website template created by the NCC.

In the CMS category, the municipal level winner was Pateros, Metro Manila, beating the municipalities of Kalibo, Aklan and Tandag, Surigao Del Sur.

Entries to the contest were judged based on their websites’ functionality, content, presentation, originality, and responsiveness to e-governance.

The contest is part of the NCC’s “Jumpstarting Electronic Governance in Local Government Units” (eLGU) Project, which aims to created and expand the online presence of the country’s LGUs for future inclusion of e-commerce and e-governance services.

Next Mobile gets CMTS license

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes , The Philippine Star

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has finally granted leading digital trunk radio operator Next Mobile Inc. (NMI) authority to engage in cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) services.

Observers said this will enable Next Mobile to interconnect its text messaging services with existing CMTS operators Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and Digitel Mobile and enjoy preferential cellular voice charges when calling from the Next Mobile network to other CMTS operators and vice versa.

In an order issued last Dec. 29, the NTC said NMI is granted provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a mobile telecommunications system, offer services, and to charge rates subject to such terms and conditions set out in a separate order to be issued by the commission.

Next Mobile chief technology officer Henrik Nyqvist said: "Our technology now is 2.5G (general packet radio service or GPRS) and we can easily upgrade to 3G (third generation mobile communications technology) faster than any of the new entrants who all have no current operations in mobile voice communications."

Mel Velarde, CEO of Next Mobile and listed firm Cashrounds, said: "We truly appreciate the present NTC leadership for this new license in recognition of Next Mobile’s long years of service as a mobile telecommunications company. With this license, Next Mobile’s dominant leadership in the trunked-radio business can now extend to other key market segments that value the superiority of our technologies and the uniqueness of our products and services. We can compete with the big telcos by being narrow minded in choosing the market niches where we think we can win."

Next Mobile is currently authorized under a legislative franchise to construct, establish, operate and maintain within and without the Philippines for commercial purposes and in the public interest, radio systems, cellular phone systems, personal communications networks, trunked radio systems, and any other means or systems similar or related to the foregoing, now existing or that which may be developed by modern technology, and to install, and operate corresponding radio transmitting and receiving stations and communications facilities at such places in or outside the Philippines.

It is also the sole authorized operator of a trunked radio dispatch communications system utilizing the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (IDEN) , which is classified as a 2.5 G technology. It has a network of 139 base stations and a footprint covering Metro Manila and Southern Luzon from Pampanga to Batangas, as well as Baguio.

In its submissions to the NTC, Next Mobile projects that in five years’ time, its subscriber base would be 1.1 million, which is 3.33 percent of the estimated population. Its subscriber forecast by the end of 2012 will be 11.7 million, which translates to a seven percent share in the wireless market. It has an authorized capital stock of more than P3 billion. Of the said authorized capital, more than P1 billion has been subscribed and paid-up.

Next Mobile is in the final stages of capital restructuring designed to wipe out the deficit in the books of the corporation. The said restructuring has been approved by the stockholders, and is currently awaiting final approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The company has total assets of more than P2.45 billion and total liabilities of P402.76 million for a net worth of P2.05 billion. It has a debt-to-equity ratio of 20:80.

NTC’s order granting Next Mobile full CMTS status was contained in its consolidated decision which granted 3G frequencies to Smart, Globe, Digitel Mobile, and Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE). There are reports that CURE has tied up with ISM Communications identified with former trade minister Roberto Ongpin which recently acquired majority control of Eastern Telecommunications Phils. Inc. (ETPI).

Since five frequencies are supposed to be assigned and only four applicants qualified as frequency assignees, the NTC said it will hold the assignment of the remaining portion of the bandwidth, specifically, 1965-1980 MHz, in abeyance until after an applicant for the assignment shall have qualified in accordance with the criteria prescribed by the NTC.

The NTC denied the application of AZ Communications Network, a company owned by businessman Antonio Cojuangco, for 3G frequencies for failure to build up the financial capability to undertake 3G operations and to raise the P400 million initial paid stockholders‚ equity. "This is a mandatory requirement of MC-07-08-2005, and having failed in that aspect it cannot be counted on to be financially capable to undertake the more expensive obligation of 3G installation and operation," the NTC said. The commission cited the same in its decision denying the application of Pacific Wireless.

Smart, Globe, Digitel, CURE, Bayantel and Multimedia Telephony, Inc.(MTI), all considered existing duly authorized CMTS service providers, were considered prequalified to apply for 3G frequencies. Of the non-CMTS service provider applicants (Next Mobile, AZ Communications, and Pacific Wireless), only Next Mobile was considered a qualified applicant.

In disposing of Next Mobile’s application for a 3G frequency, the NTC order did not state that the company was not qualified as a 3G frequency assignee.

The commission said Next Mobile’s proposal to cover 90 percent of the provincial capital towns/cities and 85 percent of the chartered cities and to use frequencies within the bands 825-845MHz paired with 870-890MHz or other frequencies appropriate for the CDMA2000 3G standard "appears to be technically feasible."

As for the financial evaluation, the NTC said that based on the financial documents submitted, Next Mobile has fully complied with the requirements under Sec. 3.3c of MC No. 07-08-2005.

"In view of the foregoing, Next Mobile is hereby granted provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a mobile telecommunications system, offer services, and to charge rates therefor subject to such terms and conditions set out in a separate order to be issued by the commission, with the clarification that this provisional authority is not specific to 3G and is without prejudice to further evaluation under the criteria and requirements set forth in Sec. 3.6, 3.8, and 5 of MC No. 07-08-2005 for the determination of applicants qualified for the assignment of the allocated frequencies for 3G," the NTC pointed out in its order.

Both CURE and Next Mobile were given licenses for mobile telecommunications system not specific to 3G, but in the case of CURE, it was able to secure a 3G frequency. "In the case of Next Mobile, it’s like owning a plane and getting a license to fly but no route or flight path yet," observers noted.

While not being able to secure a 3G frequency yet, Next Mobile officials said the decision of the NTC granting it full CMTS provider status is a welcome development. Insiders revealed that the company is hopeful that it will get the last remaining 3G bandwidth still up for grabs

E-empowered employee to fuel ICT spending in 2006, says IDC

The information and communications technology (ICT) spending and growth in the Asia-Pacific region will be fuelled largely by the surge of the e-Empowered Employee (EEE).

IDC said the e-empowered employee is increasingly able to harness technology to be more productive and responsive.

Work takes place anywhere, anytime, anyplace. It’s moving out of the traditional workstation into homes, hotels, airport lounges, and taxis.

"Workspace boundaries are diminishing as the employee is no longer tied to an office location. 9 to 5 work hours make way for 24/7 operations," said Eva Au, IDC Managing Director for Asia/Pacific.

"Technology roadmaps will not only be determined by how it can be applied to enhance productivity, but also how it can support an always-connected, knowledge-driven and rapidly shrinking global economic society," said Au.

Successful companies will be those which can rise to the challenge and capitalize on the technology opportunities further enable by the e-empowered employee — coming up with innovative strategies and delivery models that are adapted to market dynamics and optimizing the employee’s contribution to the organization’s value chain.

"It has direct impact on organizational efficiency, access to real-time information, quicker time-to-market and the ability of businesses to react to dynamic market conditions."

For 2006, IDC predicts that spending on telecommunications services will grow at 8 percent, exceeding US5 billion for Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan).

IT spending in the Asia Pacific region excluding Japan will grow at 9 percent to exceed US0 billion, with China and India accounting for 64 percent of the region’s incremental market value, said IDC.

IDC expects the economic outlook for 2006 is healthy, despite continued global political, health, and environmental uncertainties.

"This, combined with the relentless pursuit of enterprises and their employees to be more competitive, bodes well for the ICT industry in the region," noted Au.

IDC believes there will be three core pillars around which industry defining developments will occur, in the Enterprise space where the e-Empowered Employee works, the Vendor community servicing the Enterprise, and finally the ICT Industry.

Continued adoption of hardware, software, connectivity and content by consumers will move beyond the home and into the workplace.

As consumers migrate their home experiences into the Enterprise and demand the same, if not higher, level of knowledge-based services in their work environment, CIOs and line of business managers will need to adapt to the organization’s competitive needs and employee demands by becoming more discriminating in their investments. The race for scalability is back on corporate agendas.

The vendor community will need to innovate on the business models front to evolve their mode of delivery, spectrum of functionality and customer services to keep up with Enterprise demands, and purchasing styles.

Established industry models will face pressure to change their go-to-market strategies and this will encourage experimentation with development, distribution and support in order to drive costs downwards. These opportunities will open up the industry to new players.

Defined by consumer-led experiences, e-empowerment will become the basis by which employees, customers, suppliers, partners and citizens view what they expect from ICT at the workplace.