Globally and especially in Asia, connectivity is now more crucial than ever to the economic growth and development of the nation, corporations and individuals. To succeed in the ever-evolving telecommunications industry where customers and rivals are on the global scale is a massive and expensive technical challenge, yet the rewards are lucrative if the right channel strategy and scalable ecosystem is constructed. In this issue, the Top 10 of Asia pays tribute to the top 10 telcos in Asia (presented in no particular order) notable for their innovation and prowess in staying relevant in today’s ever-changing and highly competitive telecommunications landscape.
NTT Communications (Japan)
NTT Communications, a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest providers of telecommunications services Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, provides architecture, security, consultancy and cloud services to corporations. Established in 1999 with 17,850 employees worldwide as of June 2013, NTT Communications has offices in 87 cities across 31 countries outside Japan, providing services to 160 countries. Having established a strong presence in Asia-Pacific, the company is rapidly expanding through acquisitions, joint-ventures and natural growth. Since taking office in June 2010, President and CEO Akira Arima led NTT Communication’s transformation as a prominent ICT services provider worldwide with a growing focus on cloud services.
SK Telecom (Korea)
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea and touted as the World’s Most Innovative Mobile Service Provider, SK Telecom is the leading wireless communications operator, with over 24 million subscribers which translates to a market share of more than 50% in Korea. The company pioneered the mobile industry and was the first to initiate and commercialise services such as CDMA, 3G CDMA, 3.5G HSDPA and others. Helmed by President and CEO Sung Min Ha, the company now leads the way in 4G. Once SK Telekom commercialises the upgraded LTE-Advanced (20MHz+10MHz) in the second half of 2014, consumers will be able to download an 800MB movie in just 28 seconds – a significant breakthrough indeed.
Tata Communications (India)
Tata Communications is a USD3.2 billion (FY13) global communications and enterprise IT service provider that owns and operates the world’s most advanced and largest subsea fibre optics cable network, supplying top-class infrastructure, solutions and alliances to carriers and businesses globally. The company has offices in 31 countries with 70% of its revenues generated overseas. Led by Managing Director and CEO Vinod Kumar, Tata Communications foresaw that developed countries will one day shift focus to emerging markets and have prepared well for it. In addition to the subsea cable ring, the strong ties forged with partners in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa date back to over 40 years, creating a high barrier of entry to competitors.
China Mobile (China)
Incorporated in 1997 and headquartered in Beijing, China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier with about 759 million customers. It is primarily focused in providing mobile telecommunications services in Mainland China and Hong Kong SAR. CEO Li Yue is in charge of the company’s management and operation. In 2013, the company’s product sales gained prominence and starting January 2014, Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are made available via China Mobile’s extensive network of retail stores. Its collaboration with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to roll out 4G self-service banking in the near future is truly ground-breaking. As of September 2013, China Mobile is the 18th most profitable company in the world.
CSL (Hong Kong)
CSL is Hong Kong’s first mobile network operator. Established in 1983, it is a subsidiary of Telstra Corporation, Australia’s leading telco. Innovation is CSL’s strategy in the extremely competitive local market, where four other operators are competing to serve a meagre population 7.15 million,and yet with a high mobile penetration rate of 181 percent. It is the only mobile company in Hong Kong to operate with a distinctive multi-brand strategy providing a variety of customer-centric services. CSL is also the first Hong Kong telco to launch LTE in 2010. CEO Phil Mottram intends to capitalise on CSL’s strengths including its market leadership in Hong Kong and wireless technology innovation.
SingTel has over 130 years of telecommunications history and had a significant role in the country’s development as a major communications hub. Today, it offers a vast range of services and solutions over fixed and wireless medium, such as voice, data and video. Its Australian division, Optus is an innovative market leader in integrated telecommunications services in the country. The Group served 468 million mobile customers globally and employs more than 21,000 staff worldwide. CEO Chua Sock Koong who played a crucial role in SingTel’s major acquisitions, divestments and partnerships, appeared in Fortune Magazine‘s list of Most Powerful Woman Leaders in Business (2011) and Forbes Asia’s “Women in the Mix” for 2013.
Telekom Malaysia (Malaysia)
Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) is the largest telco in Malaysia with proprietorship on the fixed line network and leadership on the broadband segment with a market share of 89.1%. TM played a key role in increasing the nation’s fixed broadband take-up rate from 23% in 2009 to 67% by 2012. With a healthy revenue growth of 4.8% to RM5 billion in 1H 2013, TM’s focus on providing a new generation integrated digital lifestyle to all Malaysians is on the right track. Thanks to its massive network infrastructure, vast global reach and collective know-how under the leadership of CEO Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Zamzamzairani bin Mohd Isa, TM is poised to launch Malaysia as South East Asia’s regional digital hub and Internet centre.
Smart Communications (Philippines)
Established in 1991, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is the Philippines’ primary wireless services provider with 54.2 million GSM network subscribers as of2012. A subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Smart operates the country’s most extensive and sophisticated digital GSM infrastructure and network. Three-time winner of the Corporate Executive,CEO and President Napoleon L. Nazareno guided the innovative company in offering the widest range of cellular brands for diverse market segments and launching top-class wireless services including the world’s first multi-band LTE service.
True Corporation (Thailand)
Founded in 1990, True Corporationowns and manages Thailand’s biggest cable TV supplier, its largest ISP and its third-largest mobile operator.In 1997, President and CEO Suphachai Chearavanont steered the group out of the economic crisis and propelled True Corporation as the market leader in Thailand offering an unrivalled selection of integrated communications services and solutions such as fixed line, hi-speed Internet and cable TV. To date, the group expanded coverage of its 3G+ and broadband services to most of its provinces. True Corporation has won many awards and recognitions including “Top 500 Asia Brand” by the Asia Brand Association in China, the only Thai telco to do so.
Based in Jakarta, Telkomsel is jointly owned by Telkom Indonesia (65%) and Singtel (35%). It was the first telco in Asia to offer prepaid GSM services in 1997. In 2011, it was ranked the 7thbiggest cellular operator in the world with over 100 million subscribers within a country. CEO Alex J Sinaga is gearing the company towards the digital age, harnessing the full potential of mobile broadband technology. The company offers a variety of prepaid, postpaid and value-added services and apps to its 125 million subscribers supported by a 24-hour contact centre and over 430 service centres throughout Indonesia.