Despite competition from new carriers and mobile operators, PLDT has continued to be the Philippines’ dominant fixed-line and mobile provider. And as such has been a large part of the momentum in the country’s telecom market. Nevertheless, PLDT’s role has not gone unchallenged and in recent years Globe Telecom in particular has been pushing hard to overhaul the incumbent.
In the meantime, the number of telephone subscribers in the Philippines has continued on a healthy growth path. The mobile sector has been dominant, although more recently broadband subscriptions of all kinds have been playing a much bigger role. For a long time the growth in mobile services was in large part due to the popularity of SMS services as well as the relatively higher price and inaccessibility of fixed-line services. The global financial crisis had a major impact on the local economy and in turn on the local mobile market, pulling the growth rate down. Nevertheless the telecom market has continued to grow. After the GFC, the year 2010 saw the start of a positive rebound that has continued up to the present time. PLDT subsidiary Smart remains the dominant mobile player in the market; by 2011 it held a 52% share, followed by Globe Telecom with 32% and Digitel with 16%. The major market development in that year was PLDT’s acquisition of Digitel and its repercussions were being felt right through until 2015. With PLDT holding a huge 67% of the mobile market in early 2013, the acquisition had certainly proved controversial. When the regulator gave its final approval it was heavily conditional. By early 2015 PLDT’s share of the mobile market was close to 60% as some was clearly rebalancing going on. This report provides an overview of the major operators in the Philippine mobile market with some pertinent statistics.
- PLDT was continuing the process of fully integrating Digitel into its business, targeting completion in 2014;
- Local media company ABS-CBN Corp aiming to become ‘third player’ in the country’s telecom industry;
- Globe announced in 2013 the completion of the first phase of its network modernisation program, having upgraded 100% of its cell sites;
- NTC was proceeding with plans to auction the 3G frequency licence formerly held by CURE, seeking guidance from the Department of Finance (DoF) in early 2014;
- Globe Telecom was closing in on completing its takeover of Bayan;
- In mid-2014 NOW Telecom (formerly known as Next Mobile) revealed plans to spend US$28 million over two years to deploy mobile cell sites in metro Manila.
In April 2015, San Miguel Corp announced that it was preparing to launch a mobile service by January 2016 through its subsidiary BellTel. BellTel had already concluded agreements with contractors and suppliers covering the rollout and operation of a mobile network. This would see BellTel become the Philippines’ fourth mobile operator after PLDT, Globe and ABS-CBN Mobile. BellTel had integrated 197 base stations into its mobile network and received radio licences for 191. The operator would apply for more licences as additional base stations are integrated into the network. It will launch its service as soon as sufficient BTS sites are available for a commercial launch.
Companies mentioned in this report include:
PLDT, Smart Communications, Talk ‘N Text (TNT), Red Mobile (CURE), Globe Telecom, Digitel, Extelcom, Bayantel, Bell Telecom (Bell Telecom); ABS-CBN Corp; NOW Telecom (formerly Next Mobile); Liberty Telecom / Wi-tribe.