Just this year, San Miguel Corporation finally announced that they will formally enter in mobile telecom business next year to compete against PLDT/SMART/SUN and Globe by providing mobile, wired and other wireless services (broadband, 4G LTE and even 5G in the future). One of the key partners to SMC’s mobile venture in the Philippines is the Australian giant, Telstra, though they are still in talks.
Right now, the situation is surrounded by more questions than answers. That’s why I will try my best to put in some knowledge, and hopefully, clear some thoughts regarding SMC’s venture, which I think could become bigger than PLDT or Globe if successfully planned and executed in the coming years.
History of San Miguel Corp + Preparations
For starters, San Miguel is not new to mobile telecommunication business. It had partnerships with international networks and even bought and currently owning some telecom companies in the Philippines. In fact, they started venturing in this business almost a decade ago and SMC is surely an experienced company despite with a couple of failed attempts. SMC is the owner of Vega Telecomm, BellTel, Express Telecom and major stakeholders to Liberty and Eastern Communications. We won’t talk each of these companies here, instead, focus on SMC-Telstra.
I am thinking that SMC is just waiting for the right time where it would easily create and efficiently deploy its network and that is in 2016. Why this year if you asked. This is because almost every smartphone will be 4G LTE-enabled. It would be easier for them if they start with 4G LTE being embraced by almost all consumers in the Philippines.
The partnership is still under negotiation and talks with rumored info of Telstra probably owning up to 40% of the said company if established. This makes SMC still a major stakeholder and owner.
Qtel and SMC partnership
Also this year, SMC and Qatar Telecom will announce a mobile broadband service by early next year under the Liberty Telecom company. So far this the only detail we know about this venture. But this could change with Telstra teaming with SMC.
Solutions to infrastructures
I heard a few people working in telecoms that San Miguel Corp has been erecting cell sites and towers for more than a year already. A friend of mine confirmed (I will not name his company) that unknown cell sites have started appearing and they know that those don’t belong to Smart nor Globe.
There is also a talk that SMC will partner with Ericsson (Sun Cellular provider) for the equipment they will use. This is a bit valid given Telstra has a strong partnership with Ericsson in providing Australia 4G services.
Faster internet and more reliable service than PLDT/SMART or Globe
Even people in telecoms admit that SMC-Telstra is going to focus on providing better service than Smart or Globe. One thing that SMC is aware of is the expensive and mediocre service some consumers are getting from those two players. Remember how Philippines ranked as one of the countries with the slowest and expensive internet in Asia and world? And this is even mentioned by one of the execs in a meeting this year. What we don’t know if how SMC will price their plans and promos if cheaper or more of a kind of exclusive service to select consumers in the market.
What will be the name of SMC-Telstra venture
It’s likely San Miguel will formulate and introduce a new mobile network in a new brand that is still under Vega or Liberty telecom. And also, the probability of SMC as a network name is still alive in order to hold strong consumer influence in the start.
5G Network in the Philippines
If most of these plans will work, by the time the IMT 2020 or 5G comes out, San Miguel has already established a great presence here in the Philippines. And knowing Telstra to be one of the first networks to deliver 4G LTE service in the region, both companies would probably channel the speed of deployment of 5G in the Philippines.
We exactly don’t know the future of this venture, but given how SMC is carefully planning this for several years already, we might see a bigger telco with far better service in the future.
What do you expect if SMC telco will come out next year?