Philippine operator Smart Communications is ramping up the availability of smartphones to customers, and will keep offering unlimited data plans despite the emerging global backlash against such offers.
Smart said it is taking such steps in anticipation of a sharp increase in smartphone demand in the Philippines this year.
Gio Bacareza, head of Smart’s broadband internet and data services, said the company is speeding up the acquisition and the delivery of smartphones to its business outlets, as well as directly to customers to avoid long wait times.
Smart has set up its Online Store, which offers free delivery nationwide until June 30. The company is offering various freebies and discounts through its loyalty program are also dangled to convince subscribers to switch to a smartphone, make an upgrade or take an additional handset.
Smart targets both ends of the market, having launched Android phones for prepaid customers – its very own Netphone and the Samsung Galaxy Y priced at about $117, a price point which would make users of regular cell phones think hard why they should not switch to a smartphone. Also, Smart offers premium devices like the iPhone 4S, Blackberry, Galaxy Note and Nokia N9.
A common feature of these offerings are unlimited offers, which the public has fiercely demanded despite moves by Smart and other operators to apply usage caps, and contrary to developments in other markets.
Smart itself proposed a usage cap of 1.5 GB for its customers, which was initially approved by the regulator National Telecommunications Commission but was later scrapped amid strong opposition from a consumer group last year. Explaining its decision, the NTC said a cap “would only hamper the industry’s growth.” Ironically, the NTC said it would now focus on ensuring the improvement of services delivered to internet users.