Publicly listed information and communications technology industry trailblazer NOW Corporation has launched a program that will democratize business opportunities in the sector by partnering with small and medium-sized businesses and even entrepreneurial individuals.
The company is partnering with local entrepreneurs and local government units, initially in Northern and Southern Luzon, to bring NOW’s technology to a particular area whether for horizontal deployment such as for barangays and wide area network, or for vertical deployment such as for office buildings.
Dubbed as NOW Virtual Network Operator (NVNO), NOW’s business partnership model gives exclusive distributorship rights to the company’s broadband service to a local partner over a particular area, or preferably in one of the 35 priority cities in North and South Luzon which NOW has identified.
An MVNO is a mobile operator that does not own its own network but instead leases wholesale capacity from an existing mobile operator and its network infrastructure and resells the bandwidth to its own end-clients. It is a proven formula to propagate telecommunications in other countries including the US.
Previous attempts by one telecom company to use the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the Philippines have failed due to extremely high transactional fees being charged by the telecom firm to the MVNO.
Transparent cost structure
But NOW Corp. president and CEO Mel Velarde emphasized that they are aiming to inject renewed energy to the failed MVNO attempts by its predecessors and will seek to correct the shortcomings. To do this, Velarde said they vow to adopt a transparent cost structure, adopt a shared vision as well as technological and execution risks, and a clear shared wealth through revenue sharing.
In late 2015, NOW Corp. and its telecommunications arm NOW Telecom launched Fiber in the Air, a fixed wireless broadband internet service that provides guaranteed broadband internet for enterprises with a capacity of 2.4 gbps. Since then, NOW Corp. has forged partnerships in Mega Manila with more than 200 building properties with a two-kilometer radius area coverage.
According to Velarde, fixed wireless connectivity is the way to go not only here but worldwide. In fact, US companies such as Verizon, AT&T and even Google Fiber are pursuing wireless deployment, he noted.
He explained that unlike traditional fixed broadband which requires companies to run cables to individual homes, offices, or buildings, fixed wireless uses radio waves to beam internet connectivity to multiple locations from a single site, thus allowing data delivery in a more cost-efficient way as well as faster end-user connection.
NOW Corp. has chosen to adopt fixed wireless as its initial mode of deployment in penetrating Mega Manila. Velarde stressed that Metro Manila is around 622 square kms and given the density of the area where electric poles and underground fiber optic are a logistical nightmare.
Velarde said airwaves, which is being used by telcos to deliver broadband via wireless, belongs to Filipinos, and therefore, it is but right for everyone to benefit not just in terms of technological application but also in economic benefits. Thus, the company has opened its doors to business partners in terms of distributing the service to a certain area of territory.
The business partnership is exclusive for five years with a revenue-sharing model that provides the partner with a healthy return on investment. The business partner will select the area, hire and manage sales people in order to sell the product, take care of selling and marketing the service, install the service to end-subscribers, assist NOW in identifying a possible hub where broadband capacity can be terminated, and ensure on-time payment by the subscriber.
Meanwhile, NOW will provide the business model, over-all sales and marketing support on the national and local levels, sales training, and will also provide collecting and billing as well as state-of-the-art devices to deliver broadband internet solutions.
A major requirement in selecting business partners is that the latter must be a resident of the chosen territory, must have a business in the area, and must have strong local influence.
Velarde also noted that local governments may also utilize fixed wireless to deliver broadband connectivity to public spaces as a form of public service. NOW can install its equipment in any government-owned building such as hospitals or city halls and distribute the broadband capacity to each building.
In February 2018, NOW Telecom was granted a 25-year renewal of its tri-mega franchise, allowing the firm to deploy a wide array of telecom services utilizing new technologies including fixed wired, fixed wireless, mobile cellular, and even satellite internet via outer space.
NOW Corp. is the number one business partner of IBM in providing cyber-secured collaboration solutions and IT services. Its clients include those with hypercritical IT systems such as banks (BDO, China Bank), the Supreme Court, and Golden Arches.