Enterprise

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

The US has temporarily halted the TikTok and WeChat ban

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Late last week, Trump finally brought the hammer down on TikTok and WeChat. Supposedly, by Sunday, both Apple and Google should have pulled the platforms from their respective app stores. However, in a late ruling, that’s not happening anymore. As of late Sunday afternoon, the United States has temporarily halted the TikTok and WeChat ban.

In San Francisco, a US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler has ruled in favor of TikTok and WeChat. According to Reuters, the judge found “serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment [or right to free speech] claim.” Further, the ruling states that the bans will not alleviate the government’s cybersecurity concerns at all. If anything, it will only impede the communication between private individuals using the platform.

Yesterday, TikTok officially filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, citing violations in both the right to free speech and due process. Now, the judge’s ruling effectively blocked the ban from taking place. Of note, however, the ruling covers only WeChat.

On the TikTok side of things, the US Commerce Department temporarily halted the order of its own accord. Besides the lawsuit against the administration, TikTok is also in the middle of a finalized business deal with Oracle (whom Trump gave a blessing to).

Though both bans are on hold, the platforms’ futures are still up in the air. With a finalized buyer already, TikTok is looking to form a separate, American-owned corporation, TikTok Global, to continue its operations in the country. Meanwhile, WeChat is still figuring future plans on its own. Trump has also started to question WeChat’s owner Tencent in its other businesses.

SEE ALSO: China would rather shut TikTok down than sell it

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Enterprise

TikTok is suing Trump

Citing violation of free speech and due process

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Late last week, President Donald Trump issued a final directive against TikTok’s Chinese operations in the United States. Starting late Sunday, Apple and Google will forcibly pull the popular platform out of their respective app stores. TikTok doesn’t have much recourse. To stave off the potential shutdown, TikTok is suing Trump.

Reported by The Wall Street Journal, ByteDance filed an eleventh-hour lawsuit against the administration for violating the right to free speech. Further, the company claims the lack of due process in the impending ban.

Over the past two months, Trump fired off a vicious crusade against TikTok. Back in August, his administration issued a deadline for the platform to either leave the country or find an American buyer.

Since then, Oracle has emerged as the winner for TikTok’s US operations. Over the weekend, Trump has also “given the deal [his] blessing,” as reported by Reuters. With the deal, Oracle will create a new corporation, named TikTok Global, for the platform’s US operations. The upcoming company will recruit American directors and a security consultant on the board.

That said, TikTok’s fate is still up in the air. Whereas TikTok’s strategy will delay the ban, Trump’s erratic moves will force the platform to quickly shift to American control. More news will likely surface after the weekend.

SEE ALSO: China would rather shut TikTok down than sell it

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Enterprise

Trump is now targeting Tencent Games

Investigating Epic Games and Riot Games

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Today, the Trump administration finally administered a coup de grâce against TikTok and WeChat. The government has effectively blocked the popular platforms from app stores nationwide. Now, they are setting their sights on another target. Trump is now targeting Tencent Games.

According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration has officially asked League of Legends’s Riot Studios and Fortnite’s Epic Games for their ties to Tencent Games. Notably, the Chinese Tencent Games owns Riot Games, plus a minority stake in Epic Games.

The Committee on Foreign Investment inquired “about their security protocols in handling Americans’ personal data.” Both League of Legends and Fortnite are still two of the most popular multiplayer games today. Naturally, millions of Americans play these games every day.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the American government is now pursuing Tencent Games for their alleged Chinese ties. WeChat’s ban, in fact, stems from its ties to Tencent. At the time of WeChat’s first involvement in the ongoing ban, pundits also speculated on the eventual attack against Tencent’s other properties. Now, it’s materializing.

At this point, no one knows if Trump’s latest attack will go anywhere. The administration is likely still handling the successful attack against TikTok and WeChat.

SEE ALSO: Oracle wins bid for TikTok’s US operations

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