Publicly listed Filipino ICT group NOW Corp says it has launched a programme to ‘democratise business opportunities in the sector’ by teaming up with SMEs and individual entrepreneurs in Northern and Southern Luzon, to bring its subsidiary NOW Telecom’s technology to a particular area ‘whether for horizontal deployment such as for barangays [smallest Filipino administrative divisions] and wide area network, or for vertical deployment such as for office buildings’. The Manila Bulletin writes that the group, which is run by president and CEO Mel Velarde, is dubbing the initiative NOW Virtual Network Operator (NVNO). The innovative business model gives exclusive distributorship rights to NOW Telecom’s broadband service to a local partner over a particular area, or preferably in one of the 35 priority cities in North and South Luzon which it has identified. Similar to an MVNO, the operator’s NVNO model will allow companies signing up to lease wholesale capacity on its network infrastructure and resell the bandwidth to end-clients.
NOW Telecom (formerly Infocom Communications Network) is 19%-owned by Mel Velarde’s NOW Corp, with other shareholders including Information Capital Technology Ventures (ICTV); it was granted a 25-year renewal of its franchise, allowing the firm to deploy a wide array of telecom services including fixed wired, fixed-wireless, mobile cellular and satellite internet, in February 2018.
In late 2015 NOW Telecom launched ‘Fiber in the Air’, a fixed-wireless access (FWA) broadband service that provides guaranteed broadband internet for enterprises with a capacity of 2.4Gbps. Since then, NOW Corp has reportedly struck partnership agreements in Mega Manila with more than 200 building properties with a 2km radius area coverage. According to Velarde, FWA connectivity is the ‘way to go’ for the group, sidestepping hurdles such as securing permits to deploy fibre-optic networks in ducts etc. NOW Corp claims that its proposed business partnership model ‘is exclusive for five years with a revenue-sharing model that provides the partner with a healthy return on investment’.