Report: Presence of telcos in PH start-up scene good model to follow

The active involvement of mobile operators in the innovation space is helping the Philippines sustain its status as one of the fastest growing economies and mobile markets in Asia, according to a new report from telecom research firm GSMA Intelligence.

gsma PH

The London-based analyst firm said the high level of consumer engagement in mobile and technology in the Philippines has allowed the country to differentiate itself from other fast-growing peers in Asia, particularly in the area of innovation.

Specifically, the study noted that ?operators are very active in the innovation space in the Philippines, developing initiatives themselves or seeking start-ups and investment partners.?

?This is fairly unusual, as mobile operators generally need to defend themselves from disruptive products and services rather than seeking to develop these services themselves,? the report said.

The research outfit is apparently referring to technology incubators IdeaSpace Foundation and Kickstart, which are owned by mobile carriers Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

The report also said the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in the Philippine mobile value chain are aiding the advancement of the industry.

?[T]his is another reason why the Philippines is enjoying such success in the innovation space. The perfect storm of appetite and demand for services, willingness from operators to innovate, and engagement and investment from abroad, is creating a platform for innovation from which other countries can glean insights for catalyzing their own innovation ecosystems,? it added.

The Philippines, the report observed, has an advanced mobile market when compared to countries with similar income per capita levels.

?Combined with a youthful, literate population, a large proportion of English speakers, a rapidly improving economy and increasing foreign VC investment, this has created a unique environment for the development of innovative mobile products and services,? it said.

The research firm said operator competition and the increasing presence of Internet players has provided added impetus for the operators to innovate to maintain relevance and mindshare with consumers, and to develop new revenue streams.

?Of key focus are the innovative mobile solutions helping to provide underdeveloped, underserved, and poverty stricken regions with the opportunity to overcome socio-economic challenges, particularly in the areas of financial inclusion, education, and the ability to pre-empt, respond, and assist with recovery from natural disasters,? the report indicated.

It added: ?This innovation ecosystem not only presents the Philippines with an opportunity to enhance its standing in the adoption of digital technology and services amongst regional and global peers, but also to improve the lives of the underserved population.?

However, the report said the country needs to narrow the digital divide between advanced urban cities and outlying rural regions over the next 2-3 years.

?We believe multi-stakeholder collaboration between industry, investors and policy makers focused on releasing low frequency spectrum to expand mobile broadband coverage, developing new regional innovation centers, and driving improvements in local customer understanding are the key influencing factors in effecting this change,? it recommended.

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