Is the new network-sharing agreement between ABS-CBN Corp. and Globe Telecom Inc. a prelude to the emergence of ABS-CBN Mobile?
While we were not at the two companies' joint press conference, reports say yes. ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III is said to have told reporters that "the way to think about it is just like Smart and Globe, except it’s ABS-CBN Mobile. It would be a new brand in the market. In essence it's a third player."
What’s clear is that the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN sent a statement to Yahoo! Philippines confirming that its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., has forged a network-sharing deal with the Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc.
Globe takes on ABS-CBN’s ‘utang’
What has yet to be confirmed by ABS-CBN head of Integrated Corporate Communications Bong Osorio is whether ABS-CBN is indeed set to become a third major player in the Philippine telco field in the second half of this year.
This comes on the heels of Globe taking on part of Bayan Telecommunications Inc.'s $130-million debt in October 2012 in exchange for the joint use of the latter's cellular frequencies. Owned by the Lopezes, cash-deprived BayanTel is expected to continue undergoing fiscal rehabilitation until 2023.
If ABS-CBN is indeed going mobile, the media conglomerate is clearly aiming at a largely untapped but potentially lucrative smartphone and tablet segment. It may turn these devices into mobile TVs as the company already has robust content.
For its part, Globe should be able to further improve on its own services, possibly bundling prepaid and postpaid packages with a streaming service featuring ABS-CBN's TV show offerings, among others.
Both companies may also benefit by sharing resources like servers, switches, and towers.
In theory, it's a win-win scenario.
TV5-GMA failed merger
It recalls the move last year by TV5, which was purchased in 2009 by telecom giant PLDT through MediaQuest Holdings, to merge with rival station GMA Network Inc.
While that proposed merger ultimately crumbled, the agreement between ABS-CBN and Globe is a done deal.