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Smart Communications Inc., the wireless subsidiary of PLDT Inc. is spending $21 million (P1 billion) to expand the coverage of the country’s WiFi service reports The Philippines Star.

The project aims to expand WiFi coverage for transport hubs, government offices as well as business establishments in the country during this year. Smart Communications Inc. has stated that the $21 million budget allocated for WiFi expansion is a part of the $910 million capital expenditures set for this year.

Smart is currently working on the upgrade of the public WiFi hotspots in the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, as well as other airports in high traffic areas. This expansion will surely benefit passengers and travelers who initially had low exposure to internet connectivity at airports.

Apart from airports, Smart WiFi is also being made available to passengers waiting at the terminals of big bus companies such as Five Star Bus, Jam Liner and Victory Liner.

Smart is also penetrating public areas such as city halls, malls and coffee shops to ensure that the city becomes more enhanced in internet connectivity.

This year, Smart has aggressively broadened the company’s WiFi footprint through partnerships with government institutions and business establishments, as they all have the same goal of improving internet coverage nationwide.

The company’s WiFi rollout is also in line with their aim to help boost SMEs operations in the country.

Through Smart’s Wi-Fi service, users could enjoy free connectivity for an initial number of minutes. For continued usage, they can purchase credits from Smart, similar to how one would top up a phone with credit. Smart’s WiFi service is supported by PLDT’s fixed networks, and the company plans to implement a three year network expansion program to better connect the country at a high speed rate.

A version of this appeared in The Philippine Star on July 11. Read the full version here.

4G launches in Burma

Burma’s increased demand for mobile data is facilitating competition among telcos. Source: globalizationinburma.weebly.com

Competition among telecom players in Burma is heating up as two foreign players launched 4G services to match the increasing data demand in the developing country, reports The Nation.

Telenor Myanmar launched a 4G service in Nay Pyi Taw two months after Ooredoo Myanmar launched their 4G service in the capital city along with Yangon and Madalay.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report 2016, only 5% of mobile subscriptions in Southeast Asia were 4G, but the figure is set to increase to more than 40% by 2021.

There is now an increasing demand for faster networks in the country, with plans to introduce other 4G services with high voice definition in the future.

“To provide high speed 4G services all over the country, Telenor will need more spectrum. Telenor is looking forward to participating in the spectrum auctions planned by the Union Government later this year. Due to explosive growth of data and increasing data demand by the Myanmar people we believe it is urgently required to expand our services to 4G all over Myanmar.” Petter Furberg, the outgoing chief executive officer of Telenor Myanmar.

Telenor claims to be Myanmar’s largest network with more than 5,700 towers and 16 million customers. Over 60% of its customers are data users.

Its competitor, Ooredoo, states that its penetration rate is at 85%, with a goal to be the best data network in the country. It has extended its fibre optic network to 7,700 km with plans for more expansion by the end of this year. Ooredoo has already invested $1.7 billion to develop 4G in Myanmar.

The company promises to keep 4G price the same as with 3G and customers can enjoy free calls and use Facebook at the price of $0.003 (3 kyats) per megabyte.

As more civilians become tech-savvy, it becomes necessary for broadband networks to be faster in Myanmar. This makes Burma a golden opportunity for more telecom companies, local and foreign, to emerge in the market.

A version of this appeared in The Nation on July 11. Read the full version here.

Ericsson mobile and the Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan (YDSM) foundation have entered into a partnership agreement to use information and communication technology (ICT) to provide high speed mobile broadband and boost the wetland ecosystem in Setiu, a district in the state of Terengganu, Malaysia, reports Digital News Asia.

The project will explore five main areas: mobile broadband for all, connected agriculture, intelligent fisheries; enhanced learning; and digital ecotourism in order to provide sustainable solutions.

The first phase of work is due to commence in the last quarter of 2016 in tandem with connectivity provider Celcom Axiata and Bhd partner Luimewah.

As part of the project, Ericsson and its partners will:

  • Provide high speed mobile broadband in the wetlands area to enable the use of mobile applications, video streaming and internet of things to support the community, government and research.
  • Establish a remote monitoring system for rivers and plantations.
  • Develop a mobile app for fisherman in order for them to access information such as weather forecasts, plankton grounds and water temperature. This initiative should go onto reduce time spent at sea for workers, as well as connect the workers with their peers under one platform.

An initiative like this shows how mobility, broadband and cloud and unleash untapped potential in Malaysia. Todd Ashton, Head of Ericsson Malaysia.

“This initiative will allow Setiu to leverage ICT to digitally transform communities and industries for enhanced day-to-day living and better productivity,” he added. The partnership is a testament to how communities and the agricultural industry will be able to gain from digital platforms.

The partnership between Ericsson and the Malaysian foundation is the first of its scale, it also marks the first time ICT will be used for environmental preservation efforts.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia in July 11. Read the full version here.

Mobile economy report for Asia pacific in 2016

Asia is mobile first. Source: asia.nikkei

The number of mobile subscribers in the Asia Pacific region will grow to 3.1 billion by 2020, up from 2.5 billion at the end of 2015 according to GSMA study, The Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2016, reports Digital News Asia.

Highlights from The Mobile Economy 2016

  • 62% of the region’s population was subscribed to a mobile service in 2015
  • Mobile ecosystem adds $1.3 trillion in economic value to APAC economy
  • The four largest markets in the region are China, India, Indonesia and Japan accounting for more than 75% of the region’s total subscriber base
  • Calculation shows that mobile technologies and services made up 5.4% of Asia Pacific’s GDP. This is set to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2020
  • Mobile broadband (3G/4G) accounted for 45% of total mobile connections in Asia Pacific in 2015
  • Mobile broadband’s contribution to total mobile connection is expected to rise to 70% by 2020. This is partly due to operators’ investments in 4G network build-outs
  • 4G is on track to account for more than a third of total connections in Asia Pacific by 2020

Over half of the world’s mobile subscribers are in the Asia Pacific, and this region will be the main engine of global subscriber growth for the decade.

Rising mobile subscriber penetration and acceleration to faster networks is fueling innovation across both advanced and emerging markets in this diverse region. Mobile connectivity is helping Asia build digital societies that allow people to have all access to services, anytime and anywhere. This factor is driving a lot of economic and social development among the Asian demographic.

China, India and Indonesia have been the main drivers of smartphone growth, helping the region double its overall smartphone base over the past 2 years.

Smaller countries in the region such as Indonesia and Myanmar will also make major contributions to subscriber growth.

As Asia Pacific mobile industry’s economy value is expected to rise to $1.7 trillion by 2020, it has become a major growth contributor for the economy. Not only will this create a wealth of opportunities for the region and employment opportunities, social and developmental services will also accelerate.

To fully utilize this potential, the mobile industry must work with regulators and ecosystem players to break the region’s multiple barriers, such as the lack of locally relevant content and affordability.

A version of this article appeared in Digital News Asia on June 6. Read the full article here.