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Cellphones hit 80 million in the Philippines

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Mobile phone penetration rate in the Philippines reached 85 percent as of March 2010, although this was more of a case of subscribers having two or more phones.

Ms. Joy Sanchez, customer care head of Smart Communications, one of the mobile phone operators in the country, said cellular penetration rate, or the ratio of active SIM cards to the population, is currently at 85 percent.

Data shows that as of March 2010, there are over 80 million SIMs in use in the Philippines, against a population of about 92 million. Smart Communications Inc. has 42.9 million subscribers.

These include 25.5 million prepaid subscribers of Smart Buddy; 17.4 million subscribers of Talk N' Text brand; and 280,000 subscribers of Red Mobile.

Globe Telecom has about 23.9 million subscribers, including 13.9 million Globe users and 10 million Touch Mobile subscribers. The third major player, Sun Cellular, has about 14 million subscribers as of April 2010. With mobile phone penetration rate approaching 100 percent, industry analysts admitted that a saturation point in the industry would soon be met. The next source of the industry, they said, is the broadband Internet business.

The Philippines has 24 million Internet users, equivalent to less than 30 percent of total population, said Ms. Sanchez. At present, only 10 percent of mobile phone subscribers use mobile Internet.

As of March 2010, PLDT and Smart had 1.85 million broadband subscribers, including 1.2 million SmartBro subscribers, while the rest are PLDT DSL subscribers.

“With the cellular market maturing, we are more determined than ever to continue developing broadband as our growth sector – accordingly, the bulk of our investments will be made in this space, be it infrastructure, platforms, access devices or content,” said Mr. Orlando Vea, chief wireless adviser of Smart.

Globe had 841,000 broadband subscribers as of March 2010. “We are pleased that we have sustained the growth momentum of our broadband business,” said Ernest Cu, president and CEO of Globe Telecom, Inc. “We will continue to focus on growing our coverage footprint, pioneering innovative and affordable offerings, and improving our service delivery to fully capture the potential growth of this fast‐expanding market.”

Sun Cellular had over 400,000 broadband Internet subscribers. Other broadband and Internet players are BayanTel, WiTribe, and different Internet service providers.

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