Who provides the best mobile phone experience in the Philippines?  Which provider gives clearer and less drop calls?  Who provides consistent and real time sending and receiving text messages?  The three major mobile telecom service providers in the Philippines are:

  • SMART Telecommunications is number one in terms of the number of subscriber base with more than 30 million.
  • Globe Telecoms comes in second, with around 20 million subscribers, and
  • SUN Cellular comes to around 12 million subscribers.

Who is the best?  A good mobile telecom provider is the one who gives better signal to its customers.  Poor signals usually turns into drop calls when calling, and when idle, the mobile phone screen displays ‘Emergency calls only’ which indicates that mobile phones cannot receive signal from a telecom provider. However, getting poor signal may be due to several factors such as:

  • Location – To get the best signal, a mobile user should be at a maximum range of 5kms from a telecommunications tower.  If you have a 3G/3.5G/HSDPA capable mobile phone, you will be able to determine if you are getting a good signal if the 3G/3.5G/HSDPA indicator is shown on your phone.  In my work place here in Batangas City, all three service providers gives almost the same good quality of service with Globe having a more consistent signal because they installed a device that boost their signal within a certain area.  When I am on my way home, I noticed that the number of bars in the reception signal indicator of my mobile phone drops from a full five bars to none.  When I reach our town in San Jose, Batangas the best signal I get is from SUN Cellular.  When I am inside the house, I completely lost the signal from Globe and Smart but my SUN still provides a good reception with 3 bars.  The SUN tower is a little more than 500 meters from our house.
  • Mobile unit – Some mobile phone models receives better signal compared with other models.  Lower frequency bands pass more easily through buildings than high frequency bands do. Mobile phones now are either 3G or HSDPA capable.  This technology of mobile phones integrates voice, data and video capabilities.  These two types of mobile phones differ in speed ranging from 384Kbps to 4Mbps with HSDPA having an edge over 3G phones.  Kbps and Mbps are measurement of data transfer from one device to another.  This advantage however comes with a price.  Low-end 3G mobile phones now cost around a little under Php 5K, while mid-range 3G phones may range from over Php 10K-20K.  To get a good HSDPA mobile phone, you need around Php 20K-35K.  Currently, 3G coverage in the Philippines is has not been widely rolled out yet.  Smart and Globe has been the only two providers that has significant 3G and HSDPA signals and they can only be experience mostly in cities and selected municipalities due to the high investment needed by telecom providers.
  • Buildings structure and the materials out of which they are made: If you are inside a building, dropped calls and poor reception can be experience. Signals pass more easily through glass and wood then they do metal or concrete.  This is one of the reasons why Globe provided signal booster devices in our organization so that signal can be distributed even inside the building.
  • Weather condition such as thunder storms and heavy rains can interfere with transmissions.
  • Too much network traffic: Call quality can be inconsistent if many other subscribers are making calls at the same time.  We usually experience this using unlimited calls provided by the different providers.

Better mobile experience therefore depends on where you are and the capability of your mobile device. You should also avoid from devices or structures and locations that may compromise the capabilities of your mobile phones.  To be safe, I personally bought three different SIMs from the three major providers and a mid-range mobile device and a low-end mobile device.  SIM is very cheap these days anyway and they even come with free load.  I use either Globe or Smart when I am roaming around or at work because of the wider coverage they provide.  But when I am at home, I use Sun because of its better signal in our location.  Smart, Globe, Sun and other mobile telecoms may improve their quality of services, but we as users should also address the factors within our control.


  1. 4
    AC // October 11th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    where did you get the data on the tele providers subscribers?

    Am looking for more current data


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