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Smart-Vodafone partnership inked, to offer $10/day data roaming

From rumored rivals to partners
by Neps Firmalan | Mar 1, 2012
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Members of the Vodafone online team with the people from Smart Communications

Last month, there was a buzz about Vodafone entering the mobile network wars here in the Philippines. It turns out that it's both true and false after all. Yep, Vodafone is indeed in the country, but not the do battle with local telcos. One of the world's largest mobile communications company is actually here for a partnership with Smart Communications. Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right, Smart has teamed up with Vodafone to offer, according to the press release, "innovative mobile and data services, as well as a superior customer experience." In fact, the partnership has just rolled out its $10/day data roaming service. With this, Smart subs can enjoy a daily data flat rate of $10 when roaming in networks abroad that are under the Conexus Mobile Alliance like NTT Docomo (Japan) and Korea Telecom or KT. This is just the start and we're expecting more goodies and improvements that will result from the deal.

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So there, it seems like Vodafone is in for a partnership more than anything else. That should be enough for our restless minds, for now. Check out the full press release below.

Smart to offer new mobile services with global telco leader

The country's leading wireless services provider has joined forces with one of the world's largest mobile communications companies to provide subscribers with innovative mobile and data services, as well as a superior customer experience.

As the first and only partner of Vodafone in the Philippines, Smart Communications, Inc. now has access to the telecom giant's vast pool of knowledge and resources, including cutting-edge information technology systems and best practices in roaming, marketing, and customer value management.

Smart and Vodafone will also enter a series of collaborations, which may include the sharing of rollout strategies for LTE (Long Term Evolution) and green networks.

"We are proud to be the preferred partner of Vodafone in the Philippines, as we work together to meet the growing demand among multinational businesses for sophisticated voice, data and roaming solutions within and beyond the Asia Pacific region," said Smart International and Carrier Business Division Head Alex Caeg, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Conexus Mobile Alliance Board.

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Game-changing initiatives

According to Smart International Roaming Business and Alliances Head Mary Alice Ramos, Smart's collaboration with Vodafone will make possible game-changing initiatives in the areas of customer service, e-services, roaming offerings, among others.

"Through our participation in the Conexus alliance, Smart customers have been first in the region to enjoy a daily data rate of only US$10 when roaming on Conexus member networks," Ramos said. "With Smart's expanded collaboration with both Conexus and Vodafone, we can look forward to more customer-friendly benefits over a larger roaming footprint in the near future," she added.

Smart Customer Care Head Joy Y. Sanchez said this partnership will enable Smart to provide better online self-care services to subscribers by harnessing Vodafone's global best practices for both web services and social media.

"This will allow better customer experience in serving the evolving demands of our subscribers," she said.

"We are fully committed to developing a long-lasting relationship with our customers. This commitment is being reinforced by the way we communicate with our customers online.  Our partnership  with Vodafone enables us to leverage off the combined years of online experience of both Smart and Vodafone globally," said Smart Digital Media Head Mellissa B. Limcaoco.

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This collaboration is made possible by the strategic partnership between Vodafone and Conexus, one of Asia's largest mobile alliances which counts Smart and other regional telecom leaders like Japan's NTT Docomo, Singapore's StarHub, and Hong Kong's Hutchison Telecommunications as active members.

The data-roaming reach of Conexus members, which have a combined customer base of 320 million, has now expanded from 10 Asian markets to more than 30 markets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.

Partnership kick-off

Since their partnership took effect in January of this year, Smart and Vodafone have engaged in a workshop series at the former's headquarters in Makati City, where topics like customer care, social media, and online marketing were discussed. The training sessions, held from February 14 to 16, 2012, were conducted by Vodafone's online team, and had Smart's senior management and online customer management team, among others, as participants.

More workshops, online seminars, as well as technical training and support are expected in the coming months.

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The partnership will help Smart provide its multinational corporate subscribers with enhanced network coverage, harmonized roaming rates across multiple countries and improved cost-efficiency.

Furthermore, Smart's multinational corporate subscribers will be given access to selected resources, products, and services of the Vodafone Global Enterprise, which serves 140 multinational companies based in the Asia Pacific and 435 more customers operating in the region.

WORDS BY Neps Firmalan
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