Seven leading Asia Pacific mobile operators to form region’s largest joint venture mobile company
Regional mobile services for potential base of over 300 million customers
Shared regional mobile infrastructure to be built
Seven leading Asia Pacific mobile operators today signed an agreement to form a regional mobile alliance, Bridge Mobile Alliance, which will operate through a Singapore-incorporated company, Bridge Mobile Pte Ltd (‘Bridge Mobile’). The joint venture company will look at driving commercial and other benefits for the operators and delivering regional mobile services to their subscribers.
The seven operators are Bharti (India), Globe Telecom (Philippines), Maxis (Malaysia), Optus (Australia), SingTel (Singapore), Taiwan Cellular Corporation (Taiwan) and Telkomsel (Indonesia). Together, the group has a combined base of over 56 million subscribers, making it the largest mobile joint venture in the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of Bridge Mobile, and CEO of SingTel Mobile, noted: ‘Currently, there are several strategic issues facing the mobile operators in the Asia Pacific. The region is made up of highly diversified cultures, economies, mobile market maturity and varying degrees of technological development. As a result, mobile operators in the region are unable to fully capitalise on economies of scale. Through varied implementation, cross border interoperability beyond basic voice service at best remains poor. In addition, there is a risk of further market fragmentation with the emergence and adoption of different technological standards.
“The forming of Bridge Mobile, to drive the alliance, is an indication of the level of commitment by the mobile operators to work closely to overcome these challenges, and share the risks and benefits involved in making the partnership work. Together, we can bring about a better mobile experience for users across the region.”
Bridge Mobile will be the commercial vehicle in which the seven operators jointly invest to build and establish a regional mobile infrastructure and common service platform. This will enable the creation and seamless delivery of regional mobile services across geographical borders, and enhance the service experience of their mobile customers when they roam from one country to another.
Bridge Mobile will also develop new products and services on a regional basis, and create competitive advantages and differentiation for the mobile operators in their respective markets.
Mr Lim said: “While most operators are able to control the accessibility and service experience of their customers within their home network, they are not able to effectively do so when the customers leave their home network. Consequently customers do not enjoy a consistent service offering and experience when they roam from one country to another.”
“The common service platform will enable a seamless delivery of services across the respective mobile operator’s network, thereby enabling the operators to better serve their customers even when they are abroad, and they can do so cost effectively.”
The seven mobile operators will subscribe for an equal number of shares in Bridge Mobile for cash at par. As founding shareholders, they will each have a permanent seat on its board of directors. Based on the initial business plan, Bridge Mobile is expected to invest up to US$30 million – US$40 million over three years.
In addition to the seven operators, other mobile operators in the Asia Pacific region, and strategic partners such as technology and application solution vendors, will be offered membership in the Bridge Mobile Alliance. This will establish a community of strategic partnerships for the alliance members.
Mr Lim said: “Starting with a base of over 56 million subscribers representing the initial seven shareholders’ subscriber base, and the potential to reach over 300 million subscribers represented by the key markets in the Asia Pacific region in the near future, the Bridge Mobile Alliance will grow in both strength and size as the largest multi-market mobile alliance in the region. Our size will allow us to command significant commercial benefits and economies of scale to the alliance members.”
Bridge Mobile is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2005, with the launch of an initial suite of services to be announced in due course. These include improved voice and data roaming services, a single source of supply of mobile services in the Asia Pacific for multinationals and large corporate customers, and other joint product development initiatives.
Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, who was the Guest of Honour at the signing ceremony of the Bridge Mobile joint venture, said: “We are pleased that Bridge Mobile has chosen to establish its global headquarters and R&D centre in Singapore. Bridge Mobile will be a magnet to attract leading handset, network equipment provider, technology and content players to establish high value-added mobile activities in Singapore. This will give a significant boost to Singapore’s standing as a leading wireless and mobility hub in Asia Pacific.”