Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of Philippines-headquartered PLDT (pictured), said it is considering bringing in a Chinese company as a strategic partner for its digital unit or even in a tie-up with PLDT itself.
The operator spun off its digital platform arm Voyager Innovation in 2013 as an independent subsidiary.
Reuters quoted Pangilinan as saying: “Voyager is in the process of looking for strategic partners, and it’s possible that we may have a Chinese partner.” He added such a collaboration “is a rather novel idea” which “we should consider at the PLDT level.”
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte recently invited China to invest in the country’s telecoms sector to end the current duopoly held by PLDT and Globe Telecom. The offer comes after the president in October 2016 warned the county’s two dominant mobile operators he would open the market to Chinese competition if they fail to improve their poor service. Duterte said at the time he shared the frustration of the country’s mobile users, who have endured slow internet speeds and generally poor service.
Wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal’s latest data (covering May to July) showed the average download speed in the country stood at 8.6Mb/s compared with a global average of 16.2Mb/s.
Smart, the mobile unit of PLDT, and rival Globe traded places as the market leader by mobile connections over the last four quarters, with each holding a near 50 per cent share at end-September, GSMA Intelligence figures showed.
The two could face competition from Philippine Telegraph and Telephone (PT&T) which is considering partnering with an overseas investor to re-establish itself as a major telecoms player. The company, set up in the 1960s, plans to offer nationwide broadband internet service in three years.
Globe’s financial service subsidiary received a cash injection from Alipay owner Ant Financial in February and now plans to adopt similar tactics to those driving mobile payments adoption in China. Globe subsidiary Mynt – which runs GCash – is set to launch QR code payments in the Philippines.