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StarHub plans to go global with new service for cellphone users - pfingo
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Date: 2007-03-22 12:29
Subject: StarHub plans to go global with new service for cellphone users
Security: Public
Mood:excitedexcited
Tags:pfingo in the news, starhub
March 22, 2007 - StraitsTimes
StarHub plans to go global with new service for cellphone users
It will allow users across the world to make Net phone calls, read e-mail and chat online
 
STARHUB is readying an ambitious suite of services that will enable mobile phone users to make Internet phone calls, read e-mail and chat online for a monthly flat fee, bringing it into an arena that will see it battling online giants like Yahoo, Google and Skype.

Unveiled yesterday, StarHub's Pfingo services promise to eliminate the cumbersome software setups that plague consumers now.

It will be open to any user worldwide, not just StarHub customers.

To access the services, customers will have to download a software program from a StarHub website and register to use the service. After that, they are given a Singapore phone number that lets them make and receive cheap Internet calls at any Wi-Fi hotspot worldwide.

They can also have their Yahoo or other e-mail messages sent instantly to their mobile devices and chat online with friends using services like MSN Messenger.

Another feature will let people use their mobile devices to access photos and music stored on their PCs, even when they are travelling.

None of these services is new in itself, but StarHub is pitching Pfingo as the first to integrate them into one software package.

StarHub's move comes as Internet giants Yahoo and Google are beginning to integrate their services with new cellphones to expand their reach from computer to mobile users.

This convergence of the Internet and cellphones is forcing telcos to rethink their strategies.

Faced with falling airtime charges and a saturated market, StarHub is now keen to tap into new online services.

The company's product manager, Mr Gary Chan, told reporters yesterday: 'The new offerings compete on the service level and not just the network level.'

The telco yesterday started a three-month trial of Pfingo - short for phone, finger, on the go - with 30 tech-savvy users before it launches in a few weeks' time.

Prices are being finalised, as are some new features.

Systems administrator Alan Lau, 27, said the Pfingo services would be worth testing out, though he said none of them were 'must-have' applications.

'The convenience is definitely there, but the bottom line is still how much StarHub will charge,' he added.

StarHub is not the only company here looking at new markets in a fast converging online world.

Rival SingTel surprised many market watchers in January by offering unlimited calls on an Internet phone service. For $15 a month, users can make as many local calls as they like at Wi-Fi hotspots or with a Wi-Fi link at home.

Mr Manoj Menon, partner of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said it was a bold but positive move for StarHub to go global in its fight with big Internet rivals.

'If StarHub can customise its applications better than Google, Yahoo or Skype, it has a chance,' he said.

siewtha@sph.com.sg

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