MANILA, Philippines – It took the marriage of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Digital Telecommunications to dislodge Globe Telecom from its decades-long tight grip on the postpaid market.
After all, being No. 1 in postpaid market is beyond having bragging rights. This segment of the market is more profitable, loyal, and ideal for broadband-based services–3 attributes that mobile phone operators in a competitive environment aspire for.
As of March 2012, the combined PLDT and Digitel stressed in a June 7 statement that they have breached the 2-million mark, overtaking Globe’s. See chart below.
Note that between the Pangilinan-led PLDT and Digitel, the latter’s postpaid subscribers are nearer to Globe’s.
Digitel, which operates the Sun Cellular brand and used to be controlled by the Gokongwei group, briefly overtook Globe in 2010 when it grew its postpaid subscriber base to over one million, growing by more than 20% after it relaunched its postpaid pricing plans. Globe reclaimed the top spot not long after.
With PLDT gobbling up Digitel in October 2011, it was a matter of time before Globe gives up the postpaid throne.
The road to No. 1
The stronger and bigger PLDT group harps on the following offerings that helped them win the top spot in postpaid:
- More subscribers – “Mobile phone users find Smart’s Unli plans more practical than similar unlimited text and call offerings because Smart has the largest prepaid and postpaid subscriber base in the country – a total of 50.5 million as of end-March. This means that Smart Unli plan holders can text and call more mobile phone users as often as they want,” explained Smart Postpaid Marketing Head Kathryn Carag
- Reliable and quality service – “Smart is offering the most reliable SMS, voice, and mobile Internet services in the country. Our sophisticated network has been the best incentive for mobile phone users to avail themselves of our postpaid and prepaid services,” added Carag
- Affordable smartphones and postpaid plans – Among Smart Postpaid’s growth drivers are the Unli Plan 599, which provides unlimited calls and texts to any Smart or Talk ‘N Text number, and Netphone Plan 349 with a free handset, which provides unlimited texts and unli social stream where subscribers can check their Facebook and Twitter accounts from one application. The network also provides All-In plans which let subscribers select their free handset and customize the services they receive.
Since the birth of mobile phone service in the Philippines in late 1990’s, the Globe group has already focused on the discriminating postpaid subscribers. It was in line with the Ayala group’s strategy of focusing on quality than quantity.
The PLDT group, largely through its mobile unit, Smart Communications, caught up a few years after in the wireless game and decided to focus on the pre-paid, “pay-as-you-go” consumers. This, too, fit the group’s business model of going for quantity.
PLDT’s strategy turned out to be a winner. The Philippine market has more users who are least affluent and purchase micro-amounts of service as they need it.
Digitel also understood the market and offered unlimited service, which became an instant hit. The players have become masters at delivering the services customers want at the prices they can afford. – Rappler.com; Research by Leandro Inumerable and Jyle Sulit
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