Digitel calls foul over PLDT’s ‘unfair’ ad-based service Red Mobile

11 Jun 2009

Digital Telecommunication Philippines (Digitel), which offers mobile services under the brand name Sun Cellular, has filed a complaint against a rival for ‘unfair trade practices’, with the regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in a bid to put a stop to what it claims are ‘fraudulent ads’ and ‘unauthorised’ services. In its filing, Digitel says that Red Mobile’s 2G mobile services may be illegal. The operator is seeking a cease-and-desist order on advertisements by PLDT-backed Red Mobile’s service whose advertisements it claims contain ‘erroneous information’ on Digitel’s wireless unit Sun Cellular. In short, Red Mobile is claiming it can provide unlimited coverage utilising 8,477 cell sites, compared with Sun Cellular’s ‘limited’ service with only 3,230 sites. However Digitel, which offers ‘unlimited’ call and text services, said it had 4,603 sites as of May. Digitel is also calling on the NTC to investigate Red Mobile’s services, saying the latter’s permit is only for 3G services such as video calls and wireless broadband.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Red Mobile is essentially a relaunch of Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE) following its acquisition by PLDT-owned Smart Communications. CURE first entered the market in May 2008 as uMobile, offering what it claimed was Asia’s first ad-based mobile service. In November 2008 CURE relaunched a W-CDMA with HSDPA cellular service under the banner Red Mobile. The service, the fourth UMTS offering in the country to date, is a pre-paid affair which has set out its stall to target the lower-value demographic currently being pursued by rival operator Sun Cellular – via low-cost calls, texts and mobile internet access. Red Mobile’s introductory rates are PHP0.50 (USD0.01) per minute for on-net voice or video calls and SMS/MMS. Off-net rates are charged at PHP6.50 per minute.