Smart Communications Inc., a unit of telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., said Thursday it was able to meet its end-2008 subscriber target despite the economic slowdown.
In a statement, Smart said it recorded a total of 35 million subscribers last year, up 16 percent from the 2007 level.
The company noted that its client base grew despite slow consumer spending and stiff competition because of services focused on specific segments of prepaid and postpaid users.
"We call it 'slicing and dicing' the market and the objective is to address the needs of different segments of our subscriber base," said Smart president and chief executive Napoleon Nazareno.
Nazareno pointed out that much of the growth in the cellular business was powered by new low-cost service offerings that were developed based on the usage patterns of subscribers.
For example, heavy text users benefited from such packages as Smart Buddy's All Text 20, which offers 100 free on-net SMS and 10 bonus off-net messages for only P20.
Voice callers, on the other hand, availed of promos like the All Calls 20, which offers 10 minutes of airtime for only P20, or P2 per minute for calls to other numbers in the Smart network.
For Talk 'N Text, offers such as the Gaan Talk Piso Minuto gave real value to subscribers, with its P1 per minute rate.
In the final quarter of 2008, Smart also boosted its postpaid business by introducing Smart Gold Lite, which offers a very affordable voice call rate of P2 per minute for Smart-to-Smart calls.
Underpinning these product initiatives, Smart strengthened its brand-building efforts for both Smart Buddy and Talk 'N Text, its major prepaid service brands.
Smart is now also developing its mobile Internet business. In 2008, it launched postpaid and prepaid Smart Bro mobile Internet services using USB modem devices.
By the end of last year, this had become the fastest-growing segment of the wireless broadband business.
"Offering USB plug it devices attached to laptops in the first step in developing the mobile broadband business. Soon, you will see more compelling applications offered via cellular handsets. This will usher in the mobile broadband era where the mobile phone is the preferred Internet access device for millions of Filipinos," Smart chief wireless advisor Orlando Vea said.