Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Asian phone companies join forces


Seven Asia-Pacific mobile-phone operators with a combined total of over 56 million subscribers formed an alliance yesterday aimed at creating a unified regional network, a press statement said.

The Bridge Mobile Alliance was formed by Taiwan Cellular Corp (台灣大哥大), Bharti Televenture Inc of India, Globe Telecom Corp of the Philippines, Maxis Telecommunications Bhd of Malaysia, Optus Inc of Australia, Singapore Telecommunications Inc (SingTel) and PT Telkomsel of Indonesia.

They will each subscribe for an equal number of shares and hold one permanent board seat in a joint venture called Bridge Mobile Pte Ltd, which is expected to invest up to US$40 million over three years.

Based in Singapore, it will be the largest mobile joint venture in the Asia-Pacific market and is expected to be operational by the first quarter of next year, the statement said.

Other mobile operators as well as strategic partners such as technology and applications vendors will be offered membership in the alliance.

"The region is made up of highly diversified cultures, economies, mobile market maturity and varying degrees of technological development," said SingTel Mobile's chief executive Lim Chuan Poh, chairman of Bridge Mobile.

"As a result, mobile operators in the region are unable to fully capitalize on economies of scale," he said, adding that cross-border connections beyond voice remained poor, and different technical standards could lead to further market fragmentation.

In addition to establishing a regional mobile infrastructure and common service platform, Bridge Mobile will also develop new products and services on a regional basis, the statement from the alliance added.

"The common service platform will enable a seamless delivery of services across the respective mobile operators' networks, thereby enabling the operators to better serve their customers even when they are abroad, and they can do so cost-effectively," Lim said.

He said the seven operators have the potential to achieve a combined total of over 300 million subscribers "in the near future."

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