Filipino mobile operator Smart Communications, the mobile arm of Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), is in talks with NTT DoCoMo of Japan for wireless content to support the rollout of its 3G services in the country. The Japanese cellco, a minority 7% shareholder in PLDT, will work with Smart to provide a range of content, with the latter saying the success of the alliance will depend on the readiness of the domestic market for handsets using NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode wireless internet access platform. The head of Smart Communications’ wholesale business, Roger Quevedo, told XFN-Asia: ‘We are still waiting for Nokia Corp’s handset using i-mode,’ adding that handsets could be available as early as the third quarter of 2007.
Quevedo went on to say that the high cost of handsets – currently around USD300 each – is proving an obstacle to the smooth rollout of 3G in the Philippines. ‘Until such time 3G handset cost falls to USD100 each, it would be difficult to push the rollout of 3G in our country,’ he said. Smart plans to spend PHP14.6 billion (USD295 million) over the next three years on its 3G network, with investment seen more than doubling to PHP32 billion by the sixth year, if the business grows.