PLDT Adds Macau To International MVNO Portfolio
The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has confirmed the launch of MVNO services in Macau during Q212. This is the latest addition to its growing list of MVNO operations in international markets targeted at expatriate Filipino workers looking for a cost-effective means of communicating with family and friends back home. BMI has a positive outlook for the operator's strategy, which will see it leverage its brand name to tap into Filipino communities abroad, while minimising its market entry risks and capital expenditure.
Local media quoted PLDT's President, Napoleon Nazareno, as saying the operator launched MVNO services in Macau with a leading network in June 2012. BMI believes the operator in question is Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM), Macau's biggest mobile operator and incumbent fixed-line service provider. Regulatory data show Macau has three other mobile operators, including Hong Kong's Hutchison, and one licensed MVNO Kong Seng Paging, which has links to Macau Cable TV.
|Macau Mobile Market By Technology ('000)|
Macau is the fourth market in PLDT's international MVNO portfolio. In November 2011 the company signed an agreement with Celcom Axiata to establish an MVNO in Malaysia. The MVNO, which is 49%, owned by Celcom and 51% owned by PLDT, will offer services under the Smart Pinoy brand. Prior to the Malaysian venture, PLDT had signed similar deals with mobile operators CSL New World Mobility in Hong Kong and Mobile One (M1) in Singapore. The MVNOs in both markets also operate under the Smart Pinoy brand and have a combined subscriber base of around 100,000, according to media reports quoting PLDT's international sales and marketing arm Philippine Global Group.
BMI has a cautious outlook for the take-up of PLDT's service in Macau, considering the high mobile penetration and relatively small population of Filipinos in that country. There were 1.419mn mobile subscribers in Macau at the end of March 2012, according to regulatory data. This was a penetration rate of more than 250%. Meanwhile, the Philippine government said in 2010 there were around 10,000 Filipinos living in Macau.
It is therefore not surprising that PLDT plans to roll out MVNO services in other countries with large Filipino communities. The company has set an ambitious target of serving at least half of the estimated 8.6mn Filipinos living abroad. To this end, Nazareno revealed the company is looking at negotiating MVNO deals in more markets, with Taiwan, Italy, the UK and Saudi Arabia top of its list. The company hopes to seal two more deals by the end of 2014. One of those may be Japan, where the company's plan to launch an MVNO over NTT DoCoMo's network has been delayed since 2009 because of regulatory issues.
BMI believes the UK and Saudi Arabia present considerable growth opportunities for PLDT among its potential markets outside Asia. The UK telecoms sector already supports MVNO services, while the country is host to a large Filipino community, reflected by the amount of remittances to the Philippines. Saudi Arabia boasts even higher remittances than the UK. However, MVNO services are yet to take off in the kingdom. Although the Saudi telecoms regulator intends to issue up to three MVNO licences before the end of 2012, BMI notes that PLDT will face intense competition from other MVNOs looking to expand in the Middle East and North Africa, including FRiENDi Mobile, Renna Mobile, the UAE's du and Virgin Mobile.
|Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas|