PLDT sets expansion of mobile network service for OFWs

By Lenie Lectura, BusinessMirror

Posted at Sep 06 2012 08:37 AM | Updated as of Sep 06 2012 04:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Global Corp. (PGC), the international sales and marketing arm of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) group, is going to expand its MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service to Japan, the US, the Middle East and Europe to achieve a goal of serving 1 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in three years.

MVNOs provide mobile voice and data services using commercial agreements with licensed mobile network operators.

PGC has already sealed MVNO deals with six operators in six countries. These are CLS in Hong Kong, M1 in Singapore, Far East Tone in Taiwan, NTT DoCoMo in Guam, Celcom Axiata Bhd in Malaysia, and CTM in Macau, said PLDT executive vice president and head of enterprise and international carrier business Eric Alberto. Subscribers from these countries have reached 230,000 to date, he pointed out.

In the mid-term, PGC intends to expand and penetrate markets in the entire United States, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, among others.

The PLDT official said the phone giant is striving hard to get to markets with large a Filipino population to hit the targeted 1 million clients in two to three years.

PGC has been eyeing to expand its MVNO service to countries where the population of Filipinos is high.

Alberto said it initially wants to serve 10 percent of the estimated 10 million overseas Filipinos, mostly representing migrants or contract workers.

“That [market] remains largely untapped so we are investing our resources. We are trying our best to strike a deal. You have to pick a right partner and that partner has to pick you too,” added Alberto.

The number of registered OFWs in the US has reached 3 million; 2.5 million in the Middle East; 350,000 in Japan; 350,000 in the UK; 300,000 in Italy; 250,000 in Spain and 120,000 in Australia and New Zealand.

PLDT is looking for ways to offset declining long distance and international direct distance call revenues as these traditional means of communication are being replaced by voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype which is free of charge.

“As we go to reach new markets, we actually have a new revenue stream that will offset the challenges in the legacy business and allow us to preserve our growth,” said Alberto.

According to research firm Ovum, 75 percent of international voice traffic in 2010 was carried using VoIP. The figure is expected to rise further to as much as 100 percent by 2015.