Voyager, Sandvine work to bring data sachets to millions of mobile subscribers worldwide
Top executives of PLDT, Voyager Innovations, and Canada-based Sandvine, Inc. held a summit meeting in San Francisco, as engineers of Manila-based Voyager and Sandvine worked together in Waterloo, Ontario to prepare the global rollout of SmartService App, the mobile data dispensing platform that provides “always on” connectivity to the masses of unconnected, in affordable bite-sized sachets.
SmartService, a joint development initiative of Voyager and Sandvine, comes after the pioneering success of PowerApp, which began dispensing mobile data in sachets to subscribers of the leading Philippine mobile operator Smart Communications (part of the PLDT group) in December 2013. To date, PowerApp has been activated by 11 million subscribers belonging to PLDT’s Smart, Talk N Text and Sun Cellular brands.
Based on that success, Voyager and Sandvine are working together to bring SmartService to other international mobile network operators, under their own brand identities.
PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan and Sandvine’s CEO Dave Caputo shook hands at PLDT's North America offices in downtown San Francisco where they discussed the prospects for SmartService’s deployment to Sandvine’s customers -- operators in over 90 countries bringing together an addressable market of over half a billion mobile subscribers.
"PLDT-Smart has fully embraced the digital shift. Through Voyager Innovations and network solutions partners like Sandvine, we are now pushing this technology that packs data in bite-sizes for the masses of mobile subscribers around the world. This means they always have reliable and affordable access to mobile data," said Pangilinan.
“The biggest barriers preventing subscribers from purchasing a data plan are price, awareness of the available service plans, and the hassle of purchasing the plan. By giving subscribers the ability to instantly personalize a data plan that suits their needs and budget on their mobile device, SmartService will allow more people to get the Internet access they desire,” said Sandvine's Caputo.
PLDT-Smart is credited with putting a mobile phone in every Filipino’s hand and activating them with electronic loading (e-load) or “sachet” top-up with reference to re-packing commodities in handy affordable amounts. Smart next allowed the exchange of even smaller amounts of “load” between subscribers via “PasaLoad.” PLDT subsidiary Sun Cellular meanwhile created unlimited or “UNLI” call and text products; all groundbreaking innovations which drove high mobile penetration and usage.
The rise of smartphones and OTT apps
In the past few years, the proliferation of smartphones owing to their greater affordability, and the rise of OTT apps or “Over-The -Top” Internet alternatives to traditional voice, text and content services presented a challenge to both telcos and consumers; mainly that the cost of data plans remained prohibitive to the masses of mobile users especially in emerging markets.
In 2013, PowerApp lit up smartphones across the Philippines by dispensing bite-sized data in affordable sachets for 24x7 access depending on specific needs for social networking, social media, photo sharing, surfing and net messaging needs. Its traffic differentiation technology delivers sufficient bandwidth and precise speeds for different Internet activities and highly valued applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Viber, etc. – giving users the ‘always-on experience.’
According to Caputo, "PowerApp has been a tremendous success. With SmartService, we are now bringing its universal utility to more people around the world, whose lives will be greatly improved by being connected," Caputo added.
For his part, Orlando B. Vea, chief executive officer of Voyager Innovations said: "PowerApp is the shape of things to come. In the very near future, standards (i.e., 6G, 7G) will be more and more flexible, customizable, intelligent, and ultra-efficient, dispensing data depending on what the subscribers’ exact activities are."