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San Miguel ties up with Qatar Telecom

- Zinnia B. Dela Peña () - December 16, 2008 - 12:00am

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Telecom (QTel) to seek joint opportunities in the wireless broadband, mobile and mobile broadband sectors in the Philippines.

The MOU was signed by San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang and QTel deputy chairman Sheikh Mohammed Bin Suhaim Al-Thani Sunday in the presence of President Arroyo who was on a three-day working visit to Qatar.

The San Miguel and QTel joint venture will make them the newest entrant in the booming Philippine broadband industry. QTel provides a wide range of telecommunications products including national and international wireline and mobile telephony. It also offers Internet and data services, ADSL, wi-fi and cable TV services.

President Arroyo welcomed QTel’s proposed venture with San Miguel as she called for more investments in technology and other related industries.

Ang said San Miguel is venturing into the highly-intensive telecommunications industry because it “believes that the Filipino consumer will be the ultimate beneficiary of its intended investments,” pointing out that the public will have access to a reliable service provider offering affordable high-speed wireless broadband and communication solutions.

Al-Thani, for his part, said the joint venture is part of QTel’s ongoing plans for expansion and consolidation within Southeast Asia. He said the group has been looking “to increase its profile within the Philippines as the environment appears increasingly open to external investment and the provision of communication services.”

“We see huge opportunities for growth and partnership within the Philippines and this meeting provided an important opportunity for QTel to communicate its ambitions and its obligations to the people of the Philippines,” he said.

With an estimated subscriber base of 55 million from 16 countries where it operates GSM or WiMax services, QTel has been expanding its services in several emerging markets as it hopes to join the ranks of the top 20 telecommunication companies in the world. It recently acquired Indonesia’s second largest mobile operator for $1.8 billion.

The Philippine broadband market is currently dominated by major domestic and international fixed line and wireless services provider with Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Ayala-owned Globe Telecom, Lopez family-led Bayan Communications and the Gokongwei family’s Digital Telecommunications competing for a share of the pie.

The cost of broadband services in the country is deemed expensive relative to average monthly disposable incomes of subscribers. DSL is still the dominant broadband technology used in the Philippines.

According to IT research firm International Data Corp., the local broadband market is forecast to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 24 percent, primarily driven by higher demand from residential customers.

From only 340,000 in 2006, broadband service subscribers have reportedly breached the one million level largely due to the expansion of PLDT’s SmartBro wireless broadband, which registered an additional 65,000 new subscribers in the third quarter alone.

BAYAN COMMUNICATIONS AND THE GOKONGWEI BROADBAND CONGLOMERATE SAN MIGUEL CORP DIGITAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS GLOBE TELECOM INTERNATIONAL DATA CORP PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CO PRESIDENT ARROYO QTEL SAN MIGUEL
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