Double-digit mobile subscriber growth unattainable next year, says commission

Published by reposted only Date posted on December 29, 2009

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said that the industry would be hard-pressed to hit a double-digit growth for mobile phone subscribers next year because the market has already matured.

Edgardo Cabarios, director of NTC’s common carrier and authorization department, told reporters that the number of subscribers would still grow next year. The double-digit expansion experienced in the past years, however, is not achievable despite the increase in consumer spending brought about by the 2010 presidential election.

As of end-September, the country’s total number of subscribers is about 73.2 million, about 39.1 million of which are already cornered by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) group. Rivals Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular have captured 23.1 million subscribers and 11 million subscribers, respectively.

Natin Bhat, senior vice president in Asia Pacific of Frost & Sullivan, earlier said the growth rate in the country’s mobile industry is beginning to slow down “as we are getting closer to market maturity.”

Bhat said the Philippine telecom industry is likely to grow 6 percent annually starting this year until 2012. “We will be going to have a single-digit growth moving forward, which would mean that operators may begin to see some pressure on their margins,” Bhat said.

“I think the [Philippine] mobile market has already entered maturity at some point, though the number of subscribers is not a good measure because the number of the SIM [subscriber identification module] card. People might have dual SIM cards,” he added.

But growth in the telecom industry is still in the horizon since there are some consumers who still do not have mobile phones while some may own multiple SIMs.

“So, that allows [for] some growth. But growth obviously [is] coming down,” Bhat added.

Given this, Bhat recommended that the operators should diversify their revenue streams by focusing on mobile broadband, “which we think [would] grow faster than the fixed broadband.”

Bhat added that the industry’s growth rate in the traditional voice and short messaging service (SMS) will slow down and the growth drivers would predominantly be non-SMS or data services and mobile broadband. –Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times

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