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

Report: Huawei to lose support from ARM, hampering its own chipsets

Things are getting even worse

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Despite Huawei’s gradual loss of support from US-based companies such as Google, Intel, and Broadcom, the Chinese manufacturer has faith in its ability to produce its own replacements. However, with the latest development, even that strategy may be facing a potentially catastrophic obstacle.

BBC has reported that chipset designer ARM informed employees to halt all business with Huawei. ARM is a vital resource for most mobile devices, because even though some brands like Samsung and Huawei can produce their own system-on-chip (SoC), the technologies need to be licensed from ARM before production.


Since ARM is based in the UK, this added blacklisting wasn’t seen as a possibility at first. Unfortunately, the company appears to be complying with the US’ trade ban, the reason being that its designs hold “US origin technology.”

Huawei’s semiconductor firm HiSilicon creates the Kirin processors found in the majority of the company’s smartphones and tablets. Most, if not all, require the ARM license. According to the same report, the upcoming Kirin 985 is clear of the ban, but anything after that will most likely have its production halted.

While Google and Huawei were given an additional 90 days to sort these issues out, no such order was given to ARM just yet, saying that the closed communication takes effect immediately. Huawei hasn’t given a statement about this as of writing.

Huawei is said to have enough components and licensing to last several months to a year of production, but that would only be a short-term solution. What lies ahead for Huawei may only get worse as more bad news rolls in.

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Enterprise

Singaporean, Philippine stores stop trading for Huawei phones

Consumers are going to online marketplaces instead

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A few days ago, the American government unleashed the most influential decision in recent smartphone history. Effective 90 days after the announcement, Huawei has been banned from conducting business with American companies. As a result, Google — and other relevant companiesblacklisted Huawei from its services.

Naturally, Huawei-induced paranoia is in full swing. Consumers have begun worrying over their favored handsets. Likewise, involved companies have begun assuaging everyone’s fears. Even then, fear is a difficult enemy to eradicate.


Case in point, Asian stores have started dropping Huawei devices from their business models. Particularly, smartphone retailers have ceased their trade-in programs for Huawei products. As reported by Reuters, Singaporean and Philippine markets are steering clear of the brand. Some stores have stopped selling Huawei products altogether.

According to the report, customers are rushing to sell their handsets as soon as possible. They have since flocked to trade-in programs and online marketplaces. For example, Huawei sales have doubled on Carousell, the popular online marketplace.

Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers are not falling for the trend. “If we buy something that is useless, how are we going to sell it,” a Singaporean retailer said.

In the Philippines, smartphone stalls are expressing the same fear. Greenhills, a favored destination for smartphone reselling, has turned down Huawei phones. “We are no longer accepting Huawei phones. It will not be bought by our clients anymore,” a Greenhills saleswoman said. Meanwhile, some stalls are purchasing Huawei products only at 50 percent off.

At this rate, the Huawei ecosystem is slowly deteriorating. Consumers are dumping their handsets, regardless if old or new. Retailers are rushing to empty out their stocks. Owning a Huawei product is a risky gamble right now. However, if anything, no one knows how the situation will resolve itself as of yet.

SEE ALSO: Huawei and Google release official statements regarding trade blacklist

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Enterprise

Samsung launches its own 5x optical zoom smartphone camera

Just as good as the Huawei P30 Pro

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For some time now, Huawei has dominated the smartphone photography race. The company’s critically acclaimed P20 and P30 series have pushed the camera’s capabilities to its limits. Notably, this year’s Huawei P30 Pro flaunted a massive 10x hybrid zoom rear camera. The setup consists of a 4.7x optical module and a 48-megapixel sensor, creating a lossless image at 10x zoom. Even now, Huawei’s camera is one of the most impressive shooters to date.

Recently, smartphone makers have begun adopting the setup. Last month, OPPO launched its own 10x zoom variant found inside the Reno 10x Zoom. The industry is well on its way to a larger standard.


Now, Samsung has announced the successful development of a 5x optical zoom camera. Reported by the Korean ETNews, Samsung Electro-Mechanics has already started the manufacturing process, declaring the camera’s readiness for the market.

Image source: ETNews

Further, Samsung’s variant is reportedly ultra-slim, eliminating the need for a camera protrusion. Attached to a device, Samsung’s 5x optical zoom camera will ship with a flat rear panel. Samsung Electro-Mechanics also added in a sample image, showcasing the module’s capabilities.

Samsung will likely come with additional hardware and software upgrades, bringing image quality at par with the industry’s top guns. Currently, the Samsung S10 series uses an effective 2x optical zoom. The new 5x optical zoom module is a big upgrade for the brand.

Given the announcement, Samsung might ship the camera as early as the Galaxy Note 10. More realistically, the new module will likely ship with next year’s Galaxy S11 series. Of course, Samsung Electro-Mechanics is a different branch from the company’s mobile division. Ultimately, Samsung’s mobile division might have different plans. Only time will tell.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy A70: Price and availability in the Philippines

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