Five Asian operators form mobile data alliance

In response to growing demand from business travelers for easy-to-use wireless data services, five operators in Asia have formed a new mobile data initiative.

CSL Ltd. of Hong Kong, Maxis Communications Bhd. of Malaysia, MobileOne Ltd. of Singapore, Smart Communications Inc. of the Philippines and Telstra Corp. Ltd. of Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the Asia Mobility Initiative (AMI), the companies said Monday in a joint statement.

The five operators, with a combined base of more than 20 million customers, said the initiative is not exclusive and is open to other operators.

The group aims to provide users with the same seamless and reliable data communication service they’re accustomed to with voice, it said. It plans to achieve this by sharing content and ensuring interoperability of new mobile data networks and devices.

In a first step, AIM members will implement a number of inter-network services to support customers roaming on networks outside their home market, according to the statement. The roaming services will include General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and Caller Line Identification (CLI).

The operators will link their portals and share existing premium content, such as games, information and entertainment, they said.

AIM is a big step toward delivering mobile data services without frontiers, said CSL Chief Executive Officer Hubert Ng in the statement.

Wireless alliances are becoming increasingly popular in both Asia and Europe. Maxis and Telstra are also members of the Asian Wireless Broadband Alliance launched last month to integrate high-speed wireless Internet hotspots in five countries under a single service.

On Monday, three of Europe’s largest cellular phone operators formed an alliance to offer simplified cross-border services to business and private customers in a bid to counter the growing market domination of Vodafone Group PLC.