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”]
Huawei’s 5G technologies face potential ban in Europe
This could result in slow 5G rollout
The controversies and issues surrounding Huawei are far from over. Just last week, the telecommunications giant from China was charged by the US government with bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and theft of technology, among others. Things are not that different in Europe according to Reuters‘ latest report.
You might have heard about Huawei getting banned in certain countries including the US and Australia. These countries have restricted the Chinese company from building next-generation mobile networks or 5G infrastructure due to concerns regarding China’s National Intelligence Law which requires Chinese companies to cooperate willingly to the government when asked.
In Europe, a similar story may soon unfold as the European Commission is considering a de facto ban on Huawei’s 5G technologies within the European Union citing comparable concerns about security.
GSMA, a mobile communications industry body, is open to discuss these issues about Huawei in their next board meeting. The agenda, which was proposed by GSMA Director General Mats Granryd, will take place in late February during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. MWC is the industry’s biggest annual gathering spearheaded by GSMA.
As a leader in telecommunications equipment, Huawei is already in partnership with a number of operators worldwide to put up 5G infrastructure. This means a ban will make a big impact on the 5G rollout, at least in Europe. As an example, Europe’s largest telecoms company Deutsche Telekom will have to delay their 5G plans by up to three years if they have to take Huawei out of the picture.
Huawei continuously denies the existence of any backdoor granting easy access to the Chinese government. The company and its founder also deny the allegation that they would spy for China.
Data breach affects almost 9,000 Globe prepaid subscribers
All because of free tickets
Exactly 8,851 prepaid users of Globe Telecom responded to a text promo registration, and now their personal info is available for strangers to see. It appears to be a case of “wrong-send,” but this is something that users shouldn’t ignore.
Globe sent a text blast among its prepaid subscriber base for registration to an “exclusive community of Globe Prepaid customers.” To encourage people to join, the telco is raffling off free tickets to a Blackpink concert, a popular K-pop group, in Manila.
Everything seems to be just another promotional offer. But, once the confirmation email was sent to those who registered, there has been mismatching and users received personal details of another user. The emails contained someone else’s name, full address, and email address.
Globe has already acknowledged the issue with a posted statement via its GlobeICON Facebook page:
Globe Telecom has rectified the issue with affected customers on sending wrong confirmation receipt to another individual and reported the incident to the National Privacy Commission in compliance with regulatory requirements. It was just a case of sending the data registration confirmation receipt to the wrong individual and was not sent en masse or as a group of data. It only affected prepaid customers who have registered to the On The List program to avail of concert tickets and other music venues of Globe events. About 8,851 customers were affected out of 60 million prepaid customers.
Globe Chief Information Security Officer Anton Bonifacio said: “The On The List registration site was taken down immediately to remove access to potential registrants at the time and we have notified all affected prepaid customers of the issue.”
In response, the National Privacy Commission confirmed that Globe has formally notified the concerned government agency regarding the data breach.
The NPC is now “evaluating the incident and verifying the information given to us, following our standard procedure.” They also suggest that affected subscribers monitor their online and offline accounts for any unusual activity while they are looking into the issue.
US officially charges Huawei with technology theft
And 22 other charges
After a tense year of tug of war, the US Justice Department has finally pressed charges against Huawei. For most of last year, Huawei languished in judicial and geopolitical limbo. Stemming from the US, Huawei’s problems drew from shady Iran deals and cybersecurity concerns. As a result, Huawei found itself on the receiving end of numerous controversies.
Now, the war against Huawei has reached a crossroads. A month ago, Canadian authorities arrested the company’s chief finance officer, Meng Wanzhou. The incident underscored the war’s international reach and political implications. However, Meng has so far tread on relatively safe waters. Both Canada and the US have settled for house arrests. Of course, Meng’s light sentence was only temporary.
Recently, the US government has charged Meng (and Huawei) for bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and technology theft, among others. This tremendous list contains several surprises; so far, the conflict revolved only around the Iran deal and Chinese ties.
Overall, Huawei is facing 23 charges. According to the US government, the company’s fraud case comes from the Iran deal. Allegedly, Huawei misled financial institutions and the government about its relationship with Iran. Additionally, Huawei supposedly stole T-Mobile’s technology for its own purposes. The technology includes finger-mimicking hardware that tests phone durability.
Politically, the US primarily worries about the company’s ties with China’s government. However, America’s latest tactic involves throwing everything apart from the kitchen sink. Among all the US’s strategies so far, the charges will potentially inflict the most damage on US-China relations. All eyes are now on Huawei to pull a miracle against a rampaging US beast.
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