Ayala-owned Filipino mobile operator Globe Telecom has launched commercial 3.5G services just days after its rival Smart Telecom announced its full-blown 3G launch. Globe is looking to trump the competition with the launch of High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology, capable of offering significantly faster transmission speeds than those of 3G W-CDMA-based systems. Yesterday, Globe officials said the commercial HSDPA service is now available to consumers following a soft-launch on 30 March 2006. Although no HSDPA handsets are being sold, Globe is signing up users via laptop datacards, charging PHP2,000 a month in the launch phase for unlimited access to the internet. The company’s new offering will compete head-to-head with PLDT’s WeRoam service which uses a similar method to link PCs to a HSDPA network using a PCMCIA network card costing roughly PHP14,000.
At the end of March 2006 Globe Telecom had 13.2 million mobile phone subscribers, up from 12.4 million at the end of 2005. It registered 793,000 net additions in the first three months of this year, compared with around 5,000 net terminations in 4Q 2005. As of this month Globe estimates it has around 100,000 users with 3G-enabled phones.