Smart Communications, the Philippines’ largest mobile operator, is expected to sign an agreement with Singaporean cellco MobileOne to launch services targeting the 85,000 Filipino ex-pats living in Singapore. Smart is looking to replicate the success of its ‘1528’ service, which it launched in Hong Kong in tandem with local operator HK CSL in July. Both services aim to offer relocated Filipinos cheap voice and text services, with the added bonus of reduced tariffs for calling home to the Philippines. Besides Singapore and Hong Kong, Smart has indicated that it is looking into similar launches in the US, Italy and the Middle East, all of which contain a significant Filipino community.
Smart – the mobile arm of dominant fixed line operator Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) – launched GSM services in April 1999 under the banners Smart Buddy (pre-paid) and Smart Gold (post-paid). It had previously operated over an AMPS network, but this was shut down in late 2002, and it now shares its GSM infrastructure with PLDT’s other mobile subsidiary Piltel. PLDT last week announced that its two mobile subsidiaries had a combined customer base of more than 17 million, and predicted the addition of a further one million subscribers by the end of the year. The mobile units are now PLDT’s main earnings growth driver, representing more than 65% of revenues in the first half of 2004, and Smart and Piltel now control close to two-thirds of the country’s cellular market, which continues to grow apace.