Smart subscribers hit 45 million in 2010

Posted at 12/29/2010 3:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Cellular firm Smart Communications Inc. is ending the year with 45 million subscribers, 4 million higher than the 41.3 million recorded in 2009.

In a statement, the company said its Internet users also total over 8 million in 2010.

"What continues to be key to these achievements is Smart's superior nationwide cellular and wireless broadband network, which allows us to serve the growing appetite of our subscribers for improved coverage, capacity, and speed," said Smart president Napoloen Nazareno.

Smart has the most extensive digital communications infrastructure among all wireless operators in the Philippines. It provides services to 99% of the population, with cell sites and broadband base stations in 1,629 cities and municipalities, 115 of which are powered by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Smart is also the only Philippine telco that have deployed the high-speed packet access (HSPA) standard running on the 850-MHz frequency, which offers improved coverage and capacity for mobile broadband.

Nazareno said Smart recorded a 140% year-on-year increase in domestic call minutes, boosting cellular revenues by 12% as of September 2010.

"In a cellular market dominated by text messaging, voice was a surprise winner in 2010."

The increase likewise raised the share of voice to Smart's total cellular service revenues to 49% from only 46% as of September last year. As a result, voice overtook SMS (short message service), whose share of total revenues declined from 54% to 48%.

"The intense price competition in cellular services amid a rapidly shifting business landscape has driven Smart to come up with innovative voice call packages and combo offers. Our subscribers' positive response to these bucket and unlimited packages resulted in the increase in voice usage," said Nazareno.

Nazareno noted that aside from voice services, mobile Internet browsing is expected to lift Smart's revenues. "We are still in the early stages of this business, so there is a lot of headroom for growth."

Smart is a cellular unit of phone giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), a unit of Hong Kong-based holding firm First Pacific Co. Ltd.