Filipino mobile operators Smart Communications and Globe Telecom have admitted 3G demand has yet to pick up in the country since it was introduced at the start of 2006. The Manila Times reports that problems with dropped calls, high handset prices and other technical glitches have left the 3G boom nowhere in sight, despite all the hype. Smart and Globe each won one of the four hotly-contested 3G licences issued by the government but are uncertain when the market will begin to blossom. Smart president Napoleon Nazareno said take-up will only begin when the price of handsets comes down: ‘It’s really a handset driven [market],’ he told the paper. His comments were echoed by Ferdinand de la Cruz, the head of Globe’s consumer wireless group. A UMTS-capable phone currently retails for between USD300 and USD400, although LG has recently introduced its KG KU250 model which costs around USD130.
Globe says that of the 250,000 3G phones on its network, only 50,000 to 60,000 actually use the service. Smart meanwhile, says that it has around 500,000 3G-enabled phones on its network with only 200,000 counted as actual users.