Are Asia Telcos dumb pipes? with Grace Chng

Are Asia Telcos dumb pipes? with Grace Chng
Grace Chng, author of Intelligent Island, offered an overview of telcos in Asia and their evolution beyond being dumb pipes.

Grace Chng, author of “Intelligent Island” & former correspondent of SPH, joined us to provide a broad overview of the telecommunications industry across Asia and whether the telcos are just dumb pipes in Asia Pacific or evolving with new business models and products. With an overview on China, India and rest of Asia Pacific (including Telstra & TPG from Australia), Grace discussed the interesting trends on how they are moving towards 5G and different verticals from content to cyber-security, explored niche verticals such as healthcare and over the top (OTT) services such as video content.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Grace Chng, (@chnggrace, LinkedIn, Medium)
    • What have you been up to since leaving SPH? [0:45]
    • “Intelligent Island” by Grace Chng on the history & development of Singapore’s information and communication technology. (Check out the Facebook page for updates) [1:06]
  • Are Asia Telcos dumb pipes? [2:23]
    • A quick definition of the Asian telecommunications business moving from telephony to data carriage and in Asia, most of them started from government services and shifted into become public listed companies in 1990s. [2:48]
    • How is the traditional telco industry being disrupted? [5:30]
    • What are the traditional business models for the telcos and how has that evolved over time? [7:01]
      • US examples – AT&T-Time Warner; Comcast buying NBC Universal and Verizon acquiring Huffington Post, AOL and Yahoo!
      • Telstra and NTT Docomo has expanded into enterprise business solutions. [7:50]
      • Telcos are looking into new opportunities such as smart cities via Internet of things. [8:30]
    • Does telcos add investment into building additional infrastructure for smart cities? [8:47]
  • Can you give a quick overview of telcos in Asia and how have they changed across the years? [10:26]
    • China: China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom and their relationships with China Tower Corporation (which combined the infrastructure assets of the three telcos in China) [10:33]
    • India: AirTel, Reliance Geo [13:41]
    • East Asia 
      • Japan: SoftBank (with Sprint in the US and global ambitions with their investments – check out this episode)[14:25], KDDI, NTT Docomo [18:30]
      • Korea: SK Planet [17:26]
    • Southeast Asia
  • Digital Disruption study by Telstra: identified cloud, big data and analytics for telcos to expand their current offerings [20:47]
  • What ever that is happening in US, is it happening in Asia? Similar but with stronger focus on enterprise business solutions [23:06]
    • Telstra in Australia example with acquisition of PacNet in Singapore and expansion of their services from Australia into Asia. [23:20]
    • Singtel – SEA’s largest telco – is the strongest player in southeast Asia, moving into enterprise business solutions which is a billion dollar business; pay-tv and a subsidiary called HOOQ which is in OTT video service. [25:50]
    • PLDT in Philippines – largest telco, is now moving into enterprise business solutions, it knows it can’t survive on telephony because competition is tough with several mobile companies [29:50]
  • Looking at these trends (the actions taken by the telcos in 2016), where do you see their next steps for 2017 then? [31:35]

Author’s note: We recorded the last two questions separately from the rest, hence the difference in radio quality from 31:35. 

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Altizen and sign up for their mailing list. Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.