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Will the LG KU250 promote 3G usage in the Philippines?

A few months back, I had dinner with several Smart Comm. executives and Doy Vea of Media Quest regarding the launching of Mobile TV in the Philippines. During our discussion, I asked why would Smart move into the Mobile TV market when their 3G roll-out hasn’t been completed yet. Besides, I haven’t heard of their upgrade to HSDPA in months (if they were indeed planning to upgrade at all).

LG KU250I asked if they could share with me the total number of active 3G users in their network and I got an answer in the 30k-ish. I followed it up with a question on what figure will they get their investments (ROI) back for the entire project. With the way they answered my questions, I reckon that they’re nowhere near their expected projections.

So, will the introduction of the sub-7k 3G capable handsets like the LG KU250 do the 3G market some good? Will cheaper 3G phones revive the sluggish adaptation of 3G in the country? Maybe, yes.

The unit comes with a dual-camera (1.3MP + VGA Camera in front), 384Kbps internal modem, 10MB internal memory plus external slot and bluetooth. Smart is selling them for Php 6,290 ($130) while Globe offers it for Php500+ per month at zero interest rate for 12 months.

But phones like the LG KU250 are just that — cheap 3G phones and nothing more. Will people buy LG phones now instead of their favorite Nokia handsets because it is the cheapest 3G phone and for that reason alone? I don’t think so.

Well, maybe next year, Nokia will deliver their own version of a really cheap 3G phone so that every yaya and jeepney driver can afford to make video calls. Still, the stats tells us that Filipinos are texters rather than callers.

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  • Since the operators don’t want unlimited SMS anymore, maybe they will push unlimited Mobile IM.

  • Highly unlikely … knowing the telcos they probably want to charge the subsribers per message even on IM 😛

  • I see students using it as a 3G/GPRS modem for wireless internet, especially in the rural areas. Now, they don’t have to worry about looking for internet cafes during time crunch.

  • Globe Visibility is flate rate, isn’t it? If they improve it, and add SMS continuity, then IM will be a good use of 3G.

  • I think it can still somehow promote 3G usage but not on a big scale. Most probable reason for one to buy it is for use as a modem to connect to the internet.

  • Cheaper 3G capable phones should be the introduction to increasing 3G usage in the Philippines. But rates for using 3G services are hideous, they are just too expensive. And most people right now do not know how they can take advantage of 3G, there are those that have 3G phones but do not use MMS becuase they do not know how to or have the notion that it is expensive. Smart is offering it at P1 per MMS, but is limited to Smart subscribers. Before the majority will adapt to 3G, maybe Globe and Smart should saturate the market for usage of EDGE. Necessity is the mother of invention, 3G was developed because EDGE technology is not able to satisfactorily cope with the demands of fast data communications. Let people use the benefits of EDGE, create a market for data communications first, then the need for 3G will gradually increase because people will know its benefits.

  • James

    I have to comment on some of the statements posted by Mr. Abe Olandres.

    “I asked if they could share with me the total number of active 3G users in their network and I got an answer in the 30k-ish. I followed it up with a question on what figure will they get their investments (ROI) back for the entire project. With the way they answered my questions, I reckon that they’re nowhere near their expected projections.”

    That is because 3G handsets are very expensive for an ordinary people to buy. Of course the figure is too low for now. since when was LG ku250 “3G FOR ALL” sold to the market? Only last JUNE of 2007. Give it time. Soon more affordable handsets will be introduced to the market and along with cheaper call rates, Telecoms(ROI) should have some good kick back later on.

    “But phones like the LG KU250 are just that — cheap 3G phones and nothing more. Will people buy LG phones now instead of their favorite Nokia handsets because it is the cheapest 3G phone and for that reason alone? I don’t think so.

    Well, maybe next year, Nokia will deliver their own version of a really cheap 3G phone so that every yaya and jeepney driver can afford to make video calls. Still, the stats tells us that Filipinos are texters rather than callers.”

    Now I don’t like this part!. Is this a comment of a NOKIA patronizer? Maybe nokia ruled in our mobile industry today but it does not mean that there is no other cellphone manufacturer out there who can develop a good quality phone with lots of functionalities at a very affordable price.
    Filipinos are definitely smarter today when buying their necessities and i think its time to let go of the so called NOKIA mentality.

    You don’t know what you are missing out there. Maybe you have forgotten what LG ku250 is all about. “3G FOR ALL”. which can bring everyone closer to their loved ones even if they are miles away.

    True, maybe nokia would come up with their version of “3G FOR ALL” phone instead of “3G for the rich” and the “3G for who can afford”
    type of phone that they are currently selling. If this happens, why not!.

    But someone has to start and LG was voted by the 12 largest telecommunications company bec . of its affordable price but feature rich phone. Who knows, maybe someday we filipinos will be known as video callers and not the old texters that we are as of now.

  • Elise23

    Hey Dusty,

    There’s already some cool apps out there battling with the operators – check out http://www.yoober.com – it’s still in beta but works fine on my SE – and lets me text message and IM people without paying my operator for SMS.

    if you like to text a lot, and want free text, then it’s well worth a look. (and it works fine on my 2G phone)

    el23

  • Mochan

    I think there is a problem with the marketing somehow. Most people only know 3G as a “video call thing.” Yet I’m not even interested in using 3G phones for video conferencing: I want to use them as 3G modems so that my PDA can surf at blazing speeds.

    Problem is I don’t even use my current EDGE phone for mobile surfing; I still find even just EDGE too expensive! In fact, Smart even charges the same rate for EDGE or 3G surfing.

    I agree with Paolo to get 3G to take off you first get EDGE to take off, and to get that to take off you need to lower the price and make it more accessible. Internet for a long time was dial up metered per hour because it was too expensive for most people to get unlimited plans. But today internet is everywhere and many people even have broadband with unlimited access… for like half the price they were paying for 40 hours of internet use per month a decade ago!

    When the rates are good enough, that’s when the adoptation comes. A cheap handset to use it with is also needed but the missing component is the affordability of the service.