Viettel Group, which is wholly owned by the Vietnamese government via the Ministry of Defence and is active in mobile markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa, has set its sights on the Philippines as the next destination in its expansion drive, the company confirmed yesterday (23 August). ‘Viettel is interested in the third licence on telecommunications in this market,’ Vietnam’s largest mobile carrier told Reuters in an emailed statement. With the Philippines gearing up to award the third telco slot – possibly before the end of this year to challenge the duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom – Viettel says it will ‘consider participating [if] the conditions of the bidding documents are in line with [Viettel’s] strategy’. Along with its home market, Viettel is active in Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste, Haiti, Peru, Mozambique, Cameroon, Burundi, Tanzania and Myanmar.
Meanwhile, in a related development the acting head of the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Eliseo Rio, Jr, has revealed that US-based AT&T Inc. and Norway’s Telenor Group have also expressed interest in challenging the PLDT-Globe duopoly. ‘We are not yet sure if they will submit a bid [but]… they’re interested, so they’re here,’ the DICT told reporters following a public hearing on draft rules for the third telco search. While the two companies’ interest is not currently confirmed, the pair could join Viettel and a number of other firms which have already signalled their intent. These include KT Corp, LG Uplus, China Telecom and KDDI Corp in the list of foreign firms that are known to be keen to partner with local companies such as Davao-based Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp (PT&T), NOW Telecom, Transpacific Broadband Group International, (TBGI), Converge ICT Solutions and EasyCall Communications. ‘There might be two to three [bidding groups] that are ready by October. We’ll play it by ear,’ Rio confirmed.