Filipino fixed line operator BayanTel says it hopes to launch a mobile phone service next year, according to reports in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. BayanTel, a subsidiary of Benpres Holdings, says the service will be limited in terms of geographical reach, and will only cost USD100 million for its phase one deployment – far lower than the USD400 million initial investments spent by existing major players SMART Communications and Globe Telecom.
In a separate development, shares in Benpres Holdings rose in early trading after news reports that the country’s dominant telco, Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is interested in purchasing BayanTel. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, quoting unnamed sources, said PLDT had offered to exchange its one-third holding in Beyond Cable Holdings – a joint venture with Benpres’ SkyCable unit – for control of BayanTel. Benpres has been selling off non-core assets to focus on electricity generation and distribution, and mass media.