Telecommunications company StarHub will provide the first over-the-top prepaid mobile plan in Singapore, in partnership with Japanese instant messaging application LINE, Telecom Asia reports. This is the latest in a series of similar partnerships in Asia, with sector experts projecting that 2014 will be marked by a shift in the telecoms industry from margin-focused thinking to the pursuit of partnerships with current competitors in the area of voice and SMS services.
Last year LINE entered a similar partnership with Japan's NTT DoCoMo, and in an even bigger deal China Unicom joined forces with the Weixin/WeChat messaging system. This second deal sent ripples across the industry in Asia and signalled a major change of approach to messaging service competitors, since previously Unicom and other mobile operators in the country had appeared to unite against the messaging system operator.
Under the partnership with LINE, StarHub will provide unlimited access to the LINE text and voice messaging network at a rate of S$0.40 a day or S$6 for 30 days. For its part, LINE will design and start providing localised services specifically targeting Singaporean customers. StarHub will support the efforts of its partner by setting up an official account on the service to help it reach more prospective customers.
Chan Kin Hung, chief of mobility at StarHub, commented that he hopes the partnership will stimulate the prepaid segment in Singapore as it has a great potential for growth, especially when it comes to using mobile data.
This is an interesting development in mobile communications in Singapore where traditional operators are finding a way to work around the challenges posed by the over the top players – essentially operators are working towards achieving a mutually beneficial relationship with their competition, that is profitable for both parties.
Justin Birch | Managing Director | RP International