NOW Corp, the Filipino group controlled by local entrepreneur Mel Velarde which operates wireless business NOW Telecom (formerly Next Mobile), has indicated its desire to enter the country’s largely untapped residential broadband market. In a press briefing this week, the president and CEO told reporters that his company will look to utilise its 'fibre in the sky' service, which it has successfully rolled out for businesses such as banks, schools, hospitals and hotels, claiming ‘guaranteed’ connections of up to 700Mbps. Velarde went on to say that the next stage will be to take its service into Filipino homes, saying there is a market for NOW’s guaranteed broadband rates. ‘Families want enterprise-grade service,’ he said, adding that the telco will use its fibre in the sky platform to sidestep regulatory bottlenecks experienced by the telcos in laying down fibre cables for their broadband connections. Moreover, Velarde says NOW will be able to pursue a modular approach to expansion, helping mitigate upfront capital spending. NOW Corp has so far launched its broadband service in Corinthian Gardens, an upscale neighbourhood in Quezon City. ‘This is wireless. We will be able to cover Metro Manila easily through partners,’ Velarde added, noting that its home broadband service could be rolled out to the capital district within twelve months, and hopefully expanded to Davao and Cebu City in 2018. The firm targets a ‘relatively small’ subscriber base of 400,000 homes and businesses in five years. Over that period, it will invest up to PHP1 billion (USD19.5 million) via a preferred share sale – expected to close by the first quarter of 2018 – to increase its fibre air hubs from 100 currently, to over 450. Broadband so far accounts for 20% of NOW’s revenues, and Velarde hopes to increase broadband to 50% of revenues and then 80% in two years.
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