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Telstra, SMC call it quits on telco joint venture in PH

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Talks of a wireless joint venture between beer giant San Miguel Corporation and Australia’s biggest phone and Internet company Telstra have broken down, as the two parties have conceded that they are no longer forming a third telecom operator in the Philippines, where Internet connectivity is notoriously slow and expensive, not to mention controlled by two large conglomerates, PLDT and Globe Telecom.

SMC president and COO Ramon Ang yesterday told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that SMC and Telstra have “agreed that we can no longer continue with the talks” despite working around the clock to “resolve some issues.” Ang said the local conglomerate would continue to push through with its plans to launch an affordable and high-speed Internet service, regardless of whether it finds a new investor to take Telstra’s place.

In a separate report by The Australian, Telstra chief Andrew Penn confirmed the latest development to what has been one of the biggest tech stories in the Philippines of last year.

“While this opportunity is strategically attractive, and we have great respect for San Miguel Corporation and its president Mr. [Ramon] Ang, it was obviously crucial that the commercial arrangements achieved the right risk-reward balance for all involved,” Penn said. It was previously reported that Telstra was looking to spend up to $US1 billion for proposed mobile plans in the country.

Telstra, for its part, has offered to provide infrastructure-related assistance and consultancy support to SMC and will continue to pursue growth opportunities in Asia. The latter has gained considerable momentum since the Australian carrier acquired submarine communications network Pacnet in 2015 for $US697 million.

The latest State of the Internet report by U.S.-based online content and network firm Akamai reveals that the Philippines has the second-worst average download speed (2.8Mbps) in the Asia-Pacific region, besting only India. By comparison, top-ranked South Korea averaged a speed of 20.5Mbps.

We can’t say we’re surprised to hear that negotiations have sputtered and came to a halt Sunday, leaving a trail of disappointment and unmet expectations. Anyone who has been following this story since it broke could see the writing on the wall, and Telstra must not have liked what it saw.

The skyrocketing estimates of offering affordable, reliable, and high-speed Internet service in an archipelago; the increasingly louder call to reallocate the much-sought-after 700MHz wireless frequency, which is currently mostly held by Liberty Telecom, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation; SMC’s failed attempt at making a dent in the local telecoms industry with Wi-Tribe — you can take your pick between these red flags, but there are other concerns.

But the bottomline is the arrival of a third force in the Philippines’ telecom market has been pushed back indefinitely, which means the long-suffering customers of existing telcos will continue to have little to no choice for quality mobile and broadband service.

Below is a copy of Telstra’s press release regarding the failed joint venture.

Negotiations ended on Philippines wireless joint venture

Telstra and San Miguel Corporation have been unable to reach commercial arrangements on a possible equity investment in a wireless joint venture in the Philippines and negotiations have therefore ceased.

Telstra Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn today said the organisations had agreed at the weekend to bring negotiations to an end.

“Despite an enormous amount of effort and goodwill on all sides, we were simply unable to come to commercial arrangements that would have enabled us all to proceed,” Mr Penn said.

“While this opportunity is strategically attractive, and we have great respect for San Miguel Corporation and its President Mr Ang, it was obviously crucial that the commercial arrangements achieved the right risk-reward balance for all involved.”

Telstra has offered to continue technical network design and construction consultancy support to San Miguel Corporation, should those services be required.

“We continue to pursue growth opportunities in Asia consistent with our strategy. Following our April 2015 acquisition of Pacnet, Telstra is now one of the largest connectivity providers in Asia,” Mr Penn said.

“Our investment decisions will be guided by our capital management framework. Investments remain an important part of our future to ensure sustainable growth in earnings and shareholder returns over time.”

Telstra last year confirmed it had been negotiating a possible joint venture with San Miguel Corporation and envisaged investing up to USD$1 billion should the joint venture proceed.

[irp posts=”7566″ name=”Singapore, S. Korea dominate 4G LTE rankings, Philippines struggles”]

Sources: Philippine Daily Inquirer l The Australian

Image: International Business Times AU

Enterprise

US government will be banned from using Huawei and ZTE tech

Not a total ban, though

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The president of the United States has just imposed a major ban against two Chinese tech giants, Huawei and ZTE, from working with the US government. The ban is a component of the Defense Authorization Act which US President Donald Trump has just signed after months of discussions.

We first heard news about the bill earlier this month followed by reports of Huawei spying on people and ZTE getting banned after getting accused of selling merchandise to US rivals. The fiasco hindered Huawei phones from getting sold through US carriers. ZTE, on the other hand, was saved by Trump as confirmed by his tweet.

In the end, though, both Chinese companies now have the same fate. The US Congress worked on a measure that will essentially ban the US government and soon-to-be allies from using components and availing services from Huawei, ZTE, and a number of other Chinese communications companies.

The ban, which will go into effect over the next two years, doesn’t completely cut the ties of the US with Huawei and ZTE. The Chinese companies are not allowed to be part of any “essential” or “critical” systems of the US government, but they can still work with the US government as long as they will not be used to route or view data.

Huawei is not happy about the ban, of course, and calls it a “random addition” to the defense bill which is “ineffective, misguided, and unconstitutional.” The company also said that the ban will increase cost for consumers and businesses.

Via: The Verge

SEE ALSO: ZTE faces ban from using Qualcomm, Android on their phones

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Samsung falls to less than one percent market share in China

Might pull out of Chinese market by next year

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Recently, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 9 to worldwide acclaim. Ironically, despite the positive response, the company is still slogging through one of its most dismal years to date. Previously, the Galaxy S9 opened to tepid, abysmal sales.

Now, with the dawn of more capable competitors, Samsung is falling more drastically than ever before. Formerly a stalwart in China, the company has now fallen to less than one percent market share in one of the world’s biggest markets.

Just a few years ago, Samsung’s phones captured a comfortable market share lead at 20 percent. The huge lead accurately represented Samsung’s grip on the market at the time.

However, with the recent developments (or lack thereof), the balance of power is steadily shifting. This year, gigantic (but more affordable) outings from smaller companies — Huawei, OnePlus, OPPO, Xiaomi — have taken the market by storm.

Besides the downpour of competitive rivals, Samsung has cited the decline of the smartphone market at large as a reason. From the lack of revolutionary features, adoption and upgrade rates have declined, causing an overall plateauing of phone sales.

According to Reuters, Samsung is considering drastic measures to alleviate the slump in sales. Most radically, the company might pull out of the Chinese market entirely.

Specifically, the plan affects Samsung’s Tianjin factory in Northern China. On its own, the facility manufactures 36 million phones per year. Additionally, Samsung has other plants nearby in Huizhou and Vietnam.

Currently, Samsung officials have yet to decide on the Chinese market’s ultimate fate. However, the pull-out is still a tempting move to improve efficiency.

Regardless, Samsung will remain as a global powerhouse even if it withdraws from the Chinese market. If anything, the move will dictate the company’s (and its Chinese competitors’) trajectory for the future.

Besides Samsung, Apple has also fared similarly, bowing out to Chinese brands in multiple markets.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Price and pre-order details in the Philippines

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EU might force Apple to abandon the Lightning cable

Voting yes for a USB-powered iPhone

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Recently, the EU has gone on a mass crusade against the world’s biggest tech firms. To the benefit of the region’s consumers, the European Commission is trying to create a universally competitive industry.

Over the past few months, they have hammered in guilty verdicts against big companies for stifling competition. After fining giants like Google and ASUS, the region has now set its sights on Apple.

In 2009, the EU has urged tech firms to create a more universal standard for smartphone charging. At the time, fourteen companies including Apple and Samsung signed the pledge.

However, as you can probably guess, these efforts fell terribly flat. Companies have still segmented the industry into a plethora of charger options — micro-USB, USB Type-C, and Lightning, for starters.

Irked by the lack of results, EU Commissioner of Competition Margrethe Vestager has taken matters into her own hands. The Commission is researching if additional regulations can rescue the industry.

Currently, the EU is concerned over the rising number of wasted chargers and cables. Because of the different standards, users are forced to shelve their old cables to accommodate phone upgrades.

Among the affected companies, Apple has created the most disparity. Notoriously, the company has stuck with its own exclusive cables. Whereas its competitors have relied on USB standards, Apple has used FireWire, the dock connector, and the Lightning cable.

Apple’s exclusivity creates an advantageous but unfair revenue stream for the company. Users are forced to source their cables from the company directly (or indirectly through licensed products).

As such, any future EU regulations will likely affect Apple the most. From a consumer’s standpoint, Apple switching to USB will please users the most.

Even without the regulation, a USB-powered iPhone is still plausible. Previously, Apple had already considered a break from Lightning before releasing the iPhone X.

SEE ALSO: Battle of the reversibles: USB-C vs Lightning connector

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