War of the telcos: Who offers the best plan? | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

War of the telcos: Who offers the best plan?

/ 08:57 PM August 21, 2012

There is a different kind of war going on in the Philippines. You must have noticed the many advertisements and commercials in newspapers and on television selling to the public the plans of the two telecommunications giants, Globe and Smart. Globe has My Super Plan; Smart has Smart Freedom Plan. The two telcos are battling for the bigger number of subscribers using their services for mobile communications. Each is offering all sorts of incentives, benefits and come-ons to convince the public to use its service. The rivalry and competition between them grow by the day.

All that advertising money, alas, is lost on many phone users. Many of them say they don’t understand all the gobbledygook being dished out by the two telcos. The only impression they get, they say, is that the more you use your cell phone, the more money you save. Not true, of course. We will try here to enlighten the public on what is going on.

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Globe is the leader in postpaid services, with 1.6 million subscribers as of the end of June 2012 and growing by 28 percent from last year’s 1.25 million subscribers. It has attributed the success and growth of its postpaid business to its pioneering My Super Plan. This plan offer is a set of personalized and fully customizable postpaid plans where subscribers have the flexibility to design their plans by choosing the best mix of call, text and Internet browsing services either as consumable or unlimited service as add-on. It also offers its subscribers a choice of a monthly fee that best fits their budgets and a cell phone of their choice for free at a minimum cash-out.

Smart, which has a number of subscribers almost half of that of Globe, has come out with its own version of My Super Plan by introducing its Smart Freedom Plan. It gives subscribers options to choose from “buckets” of plans for call, text, and mobile surfing services for a limited number of days, as well as plan prices that will suit the budget of their subscribers. Unlike Globe, which offers “unli” (unlimited) services as add-on, Smart offers service buckets like bucket text and combo services that have predetermined number of text messages and calls, specific networks to send the text messages to, and a mobile browsing offer with an allocated number of megabytes to use. To me, this doesn’t sound like giving “freedom” to subscribers, as it restricts them from enjoying their mobile experience.

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With both cellular networks offering various packages of plans and services, the subscribers are the real winners. But for that to happen, each subscriber has to carefully scrutinize the plans and the benefits being offered by Globe and Smart.

The most important factor that should attract cell phone users to subscribe to a cellular network is a question of “who gives more for less.” In terms of adaptability, Smart offers a more flexible plan that caters not only to the working class but also to students who have limited budgets. Its plans start for as low as P99 a month as opposed to Globe’s P299 a month. However, subscribers must look closely into the value of services they get from what they pay monthly.

Globe offers a wide variety of all-consumable services that subscribers can choose from, ranging from calls within its network, calls to other cellular networks, international calls and text messages. All plans also come with free services, which subscribers can change on a monthly basis depending on their need, valid for a number of days. Smart offers optional add-ons to its subscribers for unlimited calls and Internet services and gives a 10-percent rebate for the first six months of subscription.

Clearly, there are some similarities to the offers being made by the two cellular networks, with a little tweaking and add-ons that would make their plans attractive to subscribers.

An example of such are two great offers from Smart and Globe which we recently saw in the newspapers. Globe offers a plan of P599 a month with unlimited calls and texts within its network, while Smart offers a plan of P500 a month with unlimited calls within its network. As I see it, Smart may look to be cheaper than Globe but if you look into the finer details, Globe includes text messages in its plan while Smart is limited to calls. The difference of including text messages may be a determining factor for subscribers to choose which network to use, especially in a country considered to be the text capital of the world.

There are other similarities and differences between Smart and Globe services ranging from the application process to their after-sales services, which are valuable considerations for subscribers in choosing their cellular network.

But the battleground for these two giants does not end with the services and value-for-money offers. There have been other campaigns used to entice subscribers to switch their choice of cellular network. There are reports that Smart launched its switching campaign by offering a 25-percent discount from its monthly service fee—a big come-on to those who would like to change their current network subscription. However, this campaign creates inequities between the “switching” subscribers and the loyal subscribers of Smart. While Smart can offer a percentage of discounts to those who choose to transfer their subscription, its loyal subscribers do not enjoy as much while they get the same services from their network. Furthermore, these loyal subscribers of Smart already suffered the burden of paying a regular cost of subscription while the transferees get to pay a quarter less than its subscription.

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TAGS: Globe, neal h. cruz, Smart, telcos
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