Biz Buzz: Oops … ABS-CBN telco goes live

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The final launch date for ABS-CBN’s telco service, which is expected to create a third industry player after rivals PLDT and Globe, has been a closely guarded secret since the plan was announced months ago.

It therefore came as a surprise to many of us when the service apparently went live Saturday night, following an announcement made during ABS-CBN’s “Tulong-Na” benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, one of the worst recorded storms in history.

We missed that concert and, thus, the announcement.

ABS-CBN issued the launch to the media—well, sort of—by saying on Tuesday it would be giving away 100,000 SIM cards to the typhoon’s survivors. It was likewise putting up free text and calling centers in affected areas.

The cards also come with free prepaid credits worth P50 plus 15 texts and 5 megabytes of Internet use.

For the rest of us, SIM cards can already be found in sari-sari stores and bazaars or tiangges.

As previously reported, ABS-CBN’s telco service would be supported by the network infrastructure of Globe Telecom of the Ayala Group. Part of the TV network’s draw would be existing and new entertainment content to be made available to ABS-CBN mobile subscribers.

It seems ABS-CBN’s bosses decided to turn the soft launch into a charity event for the thousands who continue to suffer the aftermath of Yolanda’s wrath.

Any form of charity in these trying times is always a commendable act.

But with billions of pesos being poured into the venture, where potential returns remain unquantifiable at present, we can be sure investors want to keep a close watch on this one now that it has been launched.—Miguel R. Camus

More competing corporates

The race among corporations to outdo each other in helping victims and survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda continues. This time, it’s the Aboitiz group’s turn to unveil a multimillion-peso relief package.

According to the conglomerate, it has so far raised P161 million in donation and aid from its various corporate units like Aboitiz Foundation, Aboitiz Power, Davao Light and Power, SN Aboitiz Power and UnionBank of the Philippines.

This amount also includes donations from celebrities like Sharon Cuneta, Aboitiz family members, the conglomerate’s employees and other individuals.

The stated target of the group is to raise a total of P200 million in donations for the relief effort in Eastern Visayas.

Of course, the competition to outdo each other in the typhoon relief scene is not only a local phenomenon.

After it was announced that US plane maker Boeing Co. would pack a delivery flight of Philippine Airlines’ newest Boeing 777-300ER with a few tons of relief goods, industry rival Airbus did the same thing.

The European aircraft manufacturer recently packed an Airbus A321—which was being delivered to Philippine Airlines from the factory in Hamburg, Germany—with 11 tons of relief goods that went straight to Mactan, Cebu.

In addition, Airbus also sent a larger Airbus A340 all the way from France, also packed with relief goods, to Mactan.

If only all corporate competitions unfolded like this…—Daxim L. Lucas

WEF on Haiyan

As about a thousand business, political, academic and civil society leaders convened in Abu Dhabi for the World Economic Forum’s 6th Global Agenda Council (GAC) meetings, the devastation brought about by Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) in the Philippines drew global attention to “catastrophic risks” that the world should watch out for.

At Monday’s opening plenary of the GAC—the brainstorming body that draws up the agenda for the WEF annual meetings in Davos (the same one that Pres. Aquino attended last January), Martina Gmur, head of the GAC network, cited the millions of Filipinos affected by Haiyan. “Rescue and relief workers are trapped in an enormous challenge due to the extraordinary ferocity of the storm and the destruction that it left in its wake. We send our sympathy and support to the Filipino people and those responding to this disaster….When a tragedy such as this occurs, we are reminded again of common vulnerability to  catastrophic risks and our joint responsibilities,” she said.

Gmur called on the GAC community to use its “collective brain power” to “make sense of the major transformations that are changing our world and to work further toward our ultimate goal, which is to find viable solutions and action plans that are sustainable, scalable and innovative.”

Several GAC councils as well as individuals and organizations under this global community are already involved in post-Haiyan relief and rehabilitation efforts.—Doris C. Dumlao

Don’t call me, I’ll call you

Remember the impending exit of Ashmore Group from Alphaland Corp.? Ever since that was announced, the group of businessman Roberto Ongpin has been trying to secure a new partner to take the place of the UK-based private equity fund.

One party it has supposedly been speaking to was the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Surroor Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan (or at least one of his relatives or lieutenants).

At one point, word went around that a deal was imminent and that the company that developed the high-end Balesin Island Resort off the coast of Quezon would soon have a new strategic partner. No less than Ongpin helped fan the flames when he released the monthly Balesin newsletter to members heaping praise on the Sheik (apparently an old friend of his) and hinting that the ruler of the oil-rich emirate would visit the resort soon.

However, the latest word on the street is that the would-be investors from Abu Dhabi have asked for “more time” to conduct their due diligence on the company that has become one of the most aggressive real estate developers in recent years.

Do they really need more time or is that a polite brush off? Only time will tell.—Daxim L. Lucas

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  • Pluma Mana

    ABS-CBN telco service via Globe network?…..no thanks….Globe is known for its unreliable network….

  • Handiong

    Bobby Ongpin is now reaping his bad karma.

  • asdafaa qwesda

    “No less than Ongpin helped fan the flames when he released the monthly Balesin newsletter to members heaping praise on the Sheik”

    $@$& yan si Ongpin! Manloloko at mambobola. He will not risk his own money in an investment. He takes enormous risks but only with other people’s money. His money is built on fooling people (e.g. Ashmore).

  • quenchy

    ABS-CBN’s telco service is actually called an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Abs-cbn is the brand and the underlying network infrastructure is provided by Globe Telecom. MVNO”s were the buzz world in the USA in the mid 200O’s with the likes of ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile, Ampd Mobile, Helio of SK Telekom, Movida to name a few. All have since gone out of business. The only surviving profitable MVNO is Virgin Mobile. Abs-Cbn will not survive on its brand recognition alone.

    • thrustreverser

      Agree

    • Nex

      Abs-Cbn will not survive on its brand recognition alone.

      Sigurado ka ba sa sinasabi mo? Ang isang serbisyo basta nagustuhan ng masa papatok yan, basta maalagaan lang nila nang mabuti ang mga tao na nagtitiwala sa serbisyo nila, higit sa lahat sa mobile content pa lang lamang na ang ABS, they don’t need to pay the license for each content dahil meron na silang sariling content pwede nilang panlaban yun sa competitor nila at bigay nang mas mura sa subscriber nila, samantalang ang ibang local operator nakikipag partner pa sa ABS or GMA para sa mobile content nila para magkaroon nang appetizer ang serbisyo nila.

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