The number of Filipinos buying smartphones has grown 300 percent since last year, telecommunications company Globe Telecom said Thursday.
Citing a report by research firm Gfk Asia, Globe said smartphones made up around 30 percent of all mobile phones bought in the Philippines in the first quarter of 2012. This was double the number bought in the last quarter of 2011 and triple the percentage of smartphones bought year-on-year.
The availability of entry-level smartphones that sell for around P5,000 has helped bring smartphone usage up, Globe said.
Globe had 6 million subscribers using smartphones by the end of 2011, and that number is expected to grow steadily in the next three years, the telco said in a press statement.
"There is great opportunity in the market today as the current set-up of telco networks in the Philippines is not yet ideal for smartphones. Smartphones hinge their performance on the network infrastructure it runs on," Globe Telecom CEO Ernest Cu said in the same press statement.
Globe has been working on modernizing its network to make it compatible with smartphones and other mobile devices. The upgrade is expected to give smartphone users better streaming of online videos, real-time e-mail, and better SMS and call services, Globe said.
Globe said it has already doubled the number of HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) sites in the country with "more key activations" planned in NCR, North Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao in the coming months. It will also deploy Long Term Evolution, or 4G LTE, high-speed wireless communication this year, Globe said.
"We want to give our customers the best network that enriches their mobile internet experience so network quality is important. You may have the widest coverage, but consumers today need a network with the capacity and resiliency to handle growing demand for mobile data use," Cu said.
Despite that, users have been complaining of poor signal strength, delayed text messages, and slow mobile Internet services. Twitter users have been sending Globe's customer care Twitter, @Talk2Globe, complaints every few minutes.
"I'm getting tired of providing all my info to @talk2GLOBE. 'Cause after all the effort, they'll just tell you that the network is ok," user Elgin Jude Garcia (@TheSuperElgin) said.
In May, Globe said the poor service may have been caused by illegal signal repeaters that hog the bandwidth of legitimate cell sites.