Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wider Wi-Fi

ePLDT expands wi-fi coverage abroad with new roaming deals

Erwin Lemuel Oliva eoliva@inq7.net

FOLLOWING its latest investment in wireless fidelity (wi-fi) provider Airborne Access, ePLDT this week announced the signing of new wi-fi roaming deals to extend its coverage overseas.

ePLDT, an information and communications technology subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., said the wi-fi roaming deals would allow its own subscribers to access wireless broadband services in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, and Japan.

The deals are with Maxis Malaysia, Starhub, Hong Kong CSL, T-Mobile USA, and NTT Communications. Roaming arrangements with NTT, Korea Telecom, and True Thailand will follow.

The roaming deals will allow ePLDT subscribers to access at least 18,700 wi-fi hotspots in selected Southeast Asian countries and North America.

ePLDT is also a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance formed in March 2003. Its mission has been to drive the adoption of wireless broadband technologies and services around the world by developing a common commercial, technical, and marketing framework for wireless network inter-operability.

The group operates over 35,000 wi-fi hotspots around the world.

Ray Espinosa, ePLDT President, said the company envisions the Philippines to become one of Asia's fastest-growing wifi markets by the end of 2005.

ePLDT has recently invested about 20 million pesos into Airborne Access, a Philippine firm that provides wireless fidelity (wi-fi) services.

The latest investment makes the PLDT subsidiary a majority stakeholder in the company, increasing its stake to 51 percent from 1.9 percent, according to Espinosa.

The new capital infusion would support Airborne Access' rollout of new wi-fi hotspots in the country. The company targets to have 300 wi-fi hotspots by end of 2005.

Airborne Access currently deploys an average of five to eight wi-fi hotspots a week.