With most of the world focused on data plans and tariffs, the battle over voice in the Philippines is heating up, with PLDT’s mobile unit Smart following rival Globe Telecom’s lead in introducing voice packages for PHP1 ($0.02) per minute.
Smart said it plans to offer a promotion named Express Call 50, which will give post paid and prepaid subscribers 50 minutes of calls to any network for three days for PHP1 per minute. The operator said its sub-brands TNT and Sun Cellular will also launch similar voice plans, offering five minutes of all-net calls for PHP5 per minute
Last week Globe introduced voice promotions for PHP1 per minute, which it said was the result of lower voice interconnect access charges by the country’s telecoms operators.
The country’s two major operators agreed in November 2016 to sharply reduce the interconnection rate for both fixed and mobile voice calls following pressure from the telecoms regulator to cut retail prices. The new rates went into effect on 1 January.
Under Globe’s latest all-net offers, post paid customers on its higher-tier plans can choose a PHP299 add-on giving them 300 minutes of calls to all networks, both mobile and fixed. Its prepaid subscribers can choose GoCall50, which offers 50 minutes of calls to all networks for three days.
Globe said with the new offers, it expects call traffic in 2017 to increase from 69.1 billion minutes in 2016, which itself was up 18 per cent from 2015.
Despite the growth, Globe’s voice revenue fell 8 per cent to PHP34.1 billion in 2016. Smart’s dropped 21 per cent to PHP27.3 billion.
Following pressure from the government and increased competition, data rates in the country have dropped significantly over the past few years. According to Globe, current mobile data rates of PHP50 per gigabyte have plunged 88 per cent over the last three years.