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Asian mobile alliance extends coverage with Vodafone

Conexus Mobile Alliance partners Vodafone to bring mobile data roaming beyond Asia to other continents as well as other mobile services to member telcos.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--A new partnership between Conexus Mobile Alliance and Vodafone will allow customers in the region to enjoy enhanced network coverage overseas, as well as allow the alliance's member telcos to leverage the telco's brandname and industry knowledge.

In a media briefing here Tuesday, Conexus Chairman Andrew Kwok announced the partnership with Vodafone which he said would extend Conexus members' data-roaming reach from 10 Asian markets to over 35 markets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Conexus has a customer base of over 320 million.

The partnership is expected to cover both companies' global mobile customer base of more than 600 million.

Aside from offering wider global roaming coverage, the partnership will also bring Vodafone's various mobile services know-how to the local market of Conexus members, said Paul-Gerhard, acting CEO of Vodafone partner markets. He added member telcos will be able leverage its partner-markets program, which aims to "drive revenue and differentiation" for its partners and allow them to share insights of the different markets.

Vodafone Global Enterprise's sales director for Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Stevan Hoyle, added that multinational companies are currently challenged by the complexity in the telecommunications space, in which they are required to sign multiple contracts in different countries. However, with the new partnership, enterprises now only need to have a single point of contact for their various telecommunications needs, Hoyle said.

According to Kwok, the partnership would be in effect in phases for Conexus' different members. Starting this December, Japan's NTT Docomo, Hong Kong's Hutchison Telekom, Singapore's StarHub and the Philippines' Smart Communications will be the first few in the region to include services from Vodafone in their offerings, while Thailand's TrueMove and Taiwan's FarEasTone will follow suit later.

StarHub's head of product and solutions, Chan Kin Hung, shared on the sidelines that services from the partnership will be available for its customers from Jan. 1, 2012. More details on price plans and services will be revealed then, Chan added.

Partnership with M1 not renewed
Vodafone had previously partnered M1 in Singapore to offer mobile roaming services, but M1 announced in a Monday statement that their partnership would not be renewed when it expires on Dec. 31 this year.

Itjeshorst explained that the decision to partner Conexus was based on future opportunities that could be leveraged from the alliance's "large footprint".

Asked how the partnership would drive down the cost of data roaming for customers, Kwok said Conexus introduced a flat-rate plan for its members' markets two years ago.

Alejandro Caeg, head of international and carrier business division from Smart, elaborated that customers of the alliance's member telcos pay less than US$20 a day for unlimited international data roaming in the markets of other members. This eliminates bill shock for customers, he added.

While the current partnership is focused on 3G data roaming, StarHub's Chan told ZDNet Asia that the alliance is in discussion to include future technology such as data roaming for Long-Term Evolution (LTE). He added that Vodafone's participation will benefit from the discussion as the global company is also working with U.S. telco Verizon Wireless, which is rolling out its LTE services.

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