Singapore Telecommunications Limited, more commonly known as Singtel, has an almost 140-year-old legacy stemming from its roots in 1883 as the Oriental Telephone and Electric Company.
Following various mergers, rebrands and acquisitions throughout the years, the company has grown to become one of the largest employers in Singapore and the second-largest company on the Singaporean stock exchange.
Esports Insider spoke with Tim Guhl, VP of Sales at Singtel, on the direction the telecoms giant is pursuing, as the firm continues to grow its number of supporting partnerships in the global esports industry.
Guhl’s focus at Singtel is to help their clients in the US gaming space expand their footprint in the APAC Region, whether it goes through him in sales, their venture capital firm, Singtel Innov8’s $250 million venture fund, or through their partners and other subsidiaries such as Australia’s Optus.
The rise of mobile gaming and esports has been the topic of many discussions this year, addressed at length during Esports Insider’s Digital conference series. Particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, the scene has seemed to have found its footing and these conversations have proven the ground that they stand on.
Guhl pointed to research by Niko Partners, addressing that the region’s projected industry valuation should reach $4.4 billion (£3.375 billion) and its audience will grow to 400 million PC and mobile gamers in just Southeast Asia by 2021. This signalled that it was the obvious choice for the company to enter the space in an official capacity.
Singtel is an ISP, ICT and fixed-line telephony company undergoing rapid expansion. Guhl explained: “There’s a lot about the name Singapore Telecom, or Singtel, that leads one to believe that we are Singapore-based and Singapore focused – and while this is certainly true – we have quite the presence in the Asia-Pacific region and quite a growing presence in Europe and the US as well.”
To achieve such magnitude, the company relies on its robust infrastructure, over a century of experience and growing workforce showcasing its reliability for partnerships.
With the almost-ubiquitous always-on connectivity requirements and hefty bandwidth demands of esports and modern gaming, it naturally follows that telecoms are a perfect partner for gaming and esports ventures, given that the relationships are mutually beneficial.
This mutually-assured improvement is precisely how Singtel sees their robust involvement in the APAC esports scene – starting with their 2018 partnership with Singapore Esports Association (SGEA) and the formation of PVP Esports Championship. Moreover, the firm has sponsored Team Singapore in the SEA Games, and showed its commitment to esports in SEA with South Korea’s SK Telecom, plus last December’s initiation of PVP Esports Awards.
This year, however, Singtel has moved their efforts more globally by supporting Esports Insider’s Hall of Fame 2020 as key partner. The ESI HoF awards industry talents from around the globe who, through their years in the industry, have moved the needle and set an example to follow with their achievements.
Guhl commented: “Hall of Fames are celebrations of the individuals and organisations which are the best of the best at what they do, a goal that Singtel strives to achieve in our company’s pursuits as well. Supporting Esports Insider’s Hall of Fame 2020 is an important partnership for Singtel, as the best internet and telecom provider in the APAC region.
“It is an honour to support those who have dedicated their lives and their talents to being the best of the best in the esports industry while showcasing our 140 years of brand excellence.”
While the telecom has been involved in an official capacity in esports for a short time, their network infrastructure has made an untold number of games, tournaments, and divisions possible in an unofficial standpoint due to their connections from Singapore to more than 100 countries.
“Singtel wants to be the best at what it does,” Guhl asserted. “There is so much engagement and activity coming from gaming because it’s something we’re all doing. Games are engaging by nature. So many people love gaming and so many people are actively engaged, or have recently become re-engaged with the gaming lifestyle, especially in Asia.”
Guhl said that in his view, given the current state of the world, games are playing an even bigger role in our collective lives: as a means to socialise, to compete, to create, and to play together. The accessibility, the youthfulness of the space and the inclusivity of gaming – especially mobile gaming – has opened up ways for Singtel to further interact with their customers and audience.
Many of Guhl’s 24,000 colleagues at the telecom giant are active gamers themselves, participating in the engagement of gaming and esports entertainment similarly to their customers. He shared his enthusiasm by detailing how working for a telecommunications company in 2020 can lead to working alongside the gaming and esports industries, which is an area of passion for many of the Millennial and Gen Z workforce and customer base.
“It’s like being a kid in America in the 90’s and learning that you could have a career and eventually work alongside the league that produced Michael Jordan. Now we’re living through a new phase of that where the younger generations can live out those dreams in a new era.”