In a regular series, Mobile World Live‘s Asia Editor Joseph Waring provides a regional roundup of news snippets:
SoftBank to take 40% stake in Snapdeal — reports
Indian online marketplace Snapdeal.com is reportedly raising another $650 million from Japan’s SoftBank and other existing investors to prepare it to compete with rivals Amazon and Flipkart.
A number of sources, including India Today and the Wall Street Journal, said that in addition to SoftBank taking a 40 per cent interest, other investors include eBay, Temasek (Singapore), Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, and Nikesh Arora, chief executive of SoftBank’s internet and media unit.
Snapdeal has some 500,000 sellers. The new round of funding would be the biggest investment in India’s e-commerce industry since Flipkart raised $1 billion in July.
The deal is expected to be formally announced in about a week.
India moves closer to full MNP
India’s Telecom Commission has approved the telecom regulator’s recommendation for full mobile number portability (MNP) across the country by next March. The telecom minister is expected give final approval in the coming weeks, the Economic Times said.
MNP allows a subscriber to retain their mobile phone number when they change operators, but in India it is limited to within the same service area (the country has 22 so-called circles). Country-wide MNP will allow people to keep the same number when they relocate to another service area.
IDA crowdsources network quality
Singapore’s Infocomn Development Authority (IDA) is tapping the country’s mobile subscriber base to monitor operators’ network performance.
The IDA aims to recruit 5,000 volunteers to download a smartphone app that tracks mobile network quality. The MyConnection SG app is available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The trial will end 31 March and the results will be published.
IDA said if the pilot proves successful, it will be run as a longer-term project together with the National Internet Measurement Infrastructure to increase information transparency and improve service quality.
Uninor pushes ‘Internet for All’ plan
Uninor has set a goal of making internet access available to 50 per cent of its customers within three years. The operator currently has almost 42 million connections. The ‘Internet for All’ programme supports the government’s Digital India vision, which aims to make affordable internet services and content available to the mass market.
Meanwhile, Telenor chairman Svein Aaser said recently he expects Uninor to break even soon. Norway-based Telenor has a 67 per cent stake in Uninor.
Grameenphone hits 50M subscriber mark
Grameenphone said it passed the 50 million subscriber milestone in Q3. Telenor’s mobile unit in Bangladesh, which started operations in 1997, is the leading player with a 42 per cent market share. The second-placed operator is Banglalink (25 per cent), followed by Robi with a 20 per cent share.
Telenor said Asia now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the group’s total revenue. The company has mobile units in six Asian countries – the others are India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.