PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications released a statement over the weekend in which it revealed a sharp rise in mobile internet usage in the country since the start of the year. The Philippines’ leading mobile operator by subscribers says lower data rates and the increased availability of cheaper smartphones is driving the growth, noting too a six-fold increase in the number of Smart Bro dongles (since February) and a strong uptake in smartphones connected to its network. The local Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes Smart’s chief wireless advisor Orlando B Vea as saying that if the industry had previously harboured doubts about consumer demand for mobile internet in the country, this should put an end to it. ‘In just six months we have recorded a tremendous increase in data consumption as evidenced by the spikes in usage,’ he said.
The Smart official went on to point out that BlackBerry devices account for the majority (44%) of smartphones on its network, while Google Android-based phones have a 27% share – but are growing at a rate of 20% per month. Meanwhile, the operator’s Smart Bro service has experienced a 576% increase in usage between February and August, he said. Smart’s parent PLDT is currently working on a PHP67 billion (USD1.54 billion) expansion of its networks to accommodate an anticipated explosion in demand for data and internet usage.