Two Asian telcos axe Vodafone partnerships

Melissa Chua
Singapore’s M1 and Hong Kong’s SmarTone –Vodafone will end their respective partnerships with Vodafone in December this year.
M1 and Vodafone had mutually agreed not to renew the partner network agreement between the two, in which both firms had been collaborating to offer products and services to customers. The partnership will officially end 31 December 2011, M1 said.
SmarTone-Vodafone revealed on the same day that it would not renew its marketing agreement with Vodafone. Come December, the Hong Kong-based carrier will revert to its trading name SmarTone, with services remaining unchanged for customers.
M1 spokesperson Petrina Teoh told TelecomAsia the two firms’ interests had diverged over the years, and the agreement no longer generated sufficient benefits for M1, given its costs. SmarTone CEO Douglas Li also said both firms’ interests had diverged over the years.
Teoh added the termination would not have any impact on M1’s roaming customers, as the operator would be exploring new tie-ups with new roaming partners that had been impossible in the past due to its association with Vodafone. The only apparent change, said Teoh, would lie in M1 no longer offering Vodafone-branded Blackberry devices or mobile broadband dongles to its customers.
M1 and SmarTone had been Vodafone’s exclusive partners in Singapore and Hong Kong when the respective agreements were signed in 2003 and 2004.
UK-based Vodafone spokesperson Mark Street told TelecomAsia the decision to not renew the partnerships was part of the firm’s normal review process, and any details on new Vodafone tie-ups in the region would be announced in due course.