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San Miguel, Qtel to launch Filipino wireless broadband service

9 Dec 2008

Southeast Asian diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp is reportedly planning a joint venture with Qatar Telecom (Qtel) to launch a joint venture wireless broadband operator in the Philippines, writes. No details have as yet been provided on the proposed venture’s target market, the geographic area they will focus on, or on the level of investment they intend to commit there. State-owned Qtel is an integrated telco which operates in 16 countries and has more than 55 million users to either its GSM or WiMAX services. It recently purchased a significant stake in Indonesia’s second largest mobile operator Indosat. San Miguel is attracted to the domestic telecoms market because it ‘believes that the Filipino consumer will be the ultimate beneficiary of its intended investments…Customers will now have access to a reliable service provider offering affordable high speed wireless broadband and communication solutions.’

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the Philippines is home to a number of players in the local broadband market, chief of which include incumbent operator Philippines Long Distance Company (PLDT), Ayala-backed Globe Telecom, the Lopez family’s Bayan Communications (BayanTel), the Gokongwei-controlled Digital Telecommunications (Digitel), and recent mobile broadband entrant, Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprises (CURE), owned by PLDT’s Smart Communications. In the first eleven months of this year the country has seen an increase in popularity for broadband services with the overall subscriber base climbing to close to a million, up from around 350,000 at the end of 2006. Much of the growth is attributed to wireless broadband services provided by the likes of PLDT’s SmartBro service, which added 65,000 new subscribers in the third quarter of this year alone. SmartBro counted 473,000 subscribers at 30 September 2008, lifting PLDT’s total wireless and fixed line broadband base to 880,000. Its rival Globe Telecom said it had 175,000 broadband customers at the end of the third quarter, while Lopez cable company, SkyCable continues to offer wireline broadband services to residential consumers through its SkyBroadband brand. The operator has earmarked PHP500 million for 2009 to expand its broadband services, and increase its current 10,000 or so subscribers. Another potential new market entrant in the broadband segment is listed Transpacific Broadband Group International Inc (TBGI), which recently sought funding of PHP222 million from Arab-Asia Holding Corp, a holding company thought to be backed by Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Talal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

Philippines, Ooredoo Qatar

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