One Of A Kind

Bayan Telecommunications Inc. – Shaking-Up the The Telecommunications Industry
by: Jerry Liao

One time, my friends and I engaged in a healthy discussion. The topic – which communication means is more economical? Making calls on a mobile phone or communicating by sending Short Messaging Service (SMS)?

Like any other discussion, there are those who said texting is cheaper while the others said making calls is much much cheaper. Of course, both sides are correct depending on the number of text sent and the number of minutes you’re connected. Let us say that per message sent is worth One (1) peso and the per minute call is worth Six (6) pesos. A conversation consumated by sending a combined text message of less than Seven (7) messages is cheaper than making a voice call. Any conversation consumated using more than Seven (7) text messages will make voice calls cheaper, that is if the conversation can be consumated within the One (1) minute voice call.

But what if unlimited text is in place combined with unlimited voice calls? Then the scenario I stated above is no longer valid. The next question is – Is there such a thing? Yes, with the recent offerings of Bayan Telecommunication Inc.

Last March 15, 2007, I attended a press conference by Bayan Telecommunication Inc. Yes, you heard it right, they are no longer called BayanTel but Bayan Telecommunications Inc. Aside from the new name, Bayan Telecommunication Inc. is also parading a new logo and their new offerings:

– operates one of the most far-reaching fiber-optic backbones in the country.
– owns major cable systems in Asia and the transpacific.
– Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
– Wireless Landline Service called SPAN.
– Quick Repair promise with money back guarantee program.

Bayan Telecommunication Inc. Chief Executive Consultant Mr. Tunde Fafunwa explains that in the money back program, if a phone or DSL connection remains un-repaired for more than 24 hours, a 1-day refund (equivalent to 100 pesos) will be given for every four hours the problem stays unsolved. If a subscriber’s connection is out for more than 72 hours, his or her service fee for the month will be waived.

Among the services, I would say I am more interested with the Wireless Landline Service called SPAN. The SPAN service aims to deliver “the key benefits of landline and wireless services in a single package. The SPAN phone is as big as a regular mobile phone. It also has the intelligence of the standard mobile phone such as phone directory, caller ID, stopwatch, timer, call logs, and others. The service also allows text messaging. You can send a text to any SPAN users, as well as existing users of other mobile services.

It also has the same feature as the conventional landline phone like Caller ID, Caller Waiting, 3-Way Calling, Call Forwarding and a unique offering that no other fixed line service provider has – MOBILITY. SPAN uses a CDMA mobile phone which the user can carry with him/her anywhere but is actually a landline phone with landline and mobile phone features.

To get the SPAN service, subscribers only have to buy the CDMA mobile phone (price ranges from P 2,800.00 to P 7,000.00 depending on the mobile phone model) and a monthly recurring rate of P749 VAT inclusive. Mr. Fafunwa told me that they are now working on affordable subcription plans to lower down the cost of the CDMA mobile phones – an example is if the customer sign-up for a term of one year, maybe the handset can be provided free of charge.

So what do you get out of your SPAN phone? Unlimited SPAN to SPAN voice call, unlimited SPAN to any landline voice call and unlimited SPAN to SPAN text messaging service. A One (1) peso fee will be charge for SPAN to other networks text messaging and a long distance fee will be also be charged for long distance calls. The attractive part of this new service is the unlimited SPAN to any landline voice call, as I have said awhile ago – its a mobile landline for only P749 VAT inclusive.

During my interview with Mr. Fafunwa, my first concern was network capacity. Mr. Fafunwa said that currently, their infrastructure can only accomodate 50,000 to 75,000 subscribers but expansion is ongoing. There target within the year is to have 100,000 subscribers. Bayan Telecommunications Inc. intends to expand the coverage of SPAN in the whole of Metro Manila and the key cities nationwide. Based on my experience, network quality and service suffers everytime the subscriber’s base grows. If this happens, then we can be assured that price increase will follow or certain new procedures will be implemented. Let’s face it, no matter how attractive the offering is – it is still business.

To be honest, I am a bit hesitant to write this story, because when I visited the official website of Bayan Telecommunication Inc. (http://www.bayantel.com.ph/), I was surprised to see an outdated website. It still has its old logo and its old name, and the latest press story dated way back April 4, 2006. This will give people an impression that the company has no activity from April 4, 2006 to date. If Bayan Telecommunication Inc. is serious about this new rebranding, I believed updating the website is a vital component.

Anyway, maybe due to its preparation – the I.T. group of Bayan Telecommunication Inc. or whoever is in charge of their website may have overlooked this angle so I am giving them some liniency. Anyway, the SPAN service to me is still revolutionary despite the outdated website. And what excites me really is we can expect anytime soon the other telecommunication provider to follow or at the very least adjust their rates. In other words, we the user will benefit from this and will continue to enjoy affordable communication rates.

Congratulations to Bayan Telecommunications Inc.

*****

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