RT Cunningham


SIM Cards and Mobile Service Providers in the Philippines

SIM Cards - Mobile Phone Services When I moved here from the United States in 2006, SIM (subscriber identity module) cards confused me. I didn’t know what a “load” was and I didn’t care. The only person in my family who used a mobile phone (and it was before smartphones became popular here) was my younger son, Jon.

In January of 2015, after we returned from the United States, Josie (my wife) and I got our first smartphones in the Philippines and we were locked into a two-year contract. That contract expired last month and we decided to do something else this time.

Prepaid, Postpaid and SIM Only Plans

I won’t get into all the details. There are many plans from many mobile service providers and they change from month to month.

You can buy a prepaid SIM card and put “loads” on it when you want to place outbound calls or text people. Loads have been known to disappear before they expire.

Postpaid isn’t really post paid. You have to pay one month in advance when you first get the SIM card. To me, that’s prepaid but I guess they have to differentiate the plans somehow. Josie and I got postpaid SIM cards this time since we already have phones.

Mobile Service Providers

Some people opt for plans that include a lot of data. I can understand that if it’s their only Internet connection. Otherwise, I can’t.

I have a DSL line from PLDT. PLDT, by the way, is also an umbrella corporation for a bunch of other corporations, including the Smart and Sun mobile service providers. We switched from Smart to Sun but we didn’t really switch, you know what I mean?

So, I’m paying 2750 pesos (between $55 and $60) a month for DSL, but I’m only paying 300 pesos (less than $7) a month for each SIM card. These SIM cards give us unlimited calls to the Sun, Smart and TNT (a service under Smart) networks and unlimited text to all networks. And this is without a contract of any kind.

Data Usage

Some people use a lot of data with their mobile phones. I’m not one of them and I don’t need to be. I get unlimited data through my DSL connection. Since I spend most of my time at home, I use the DSL for Wi-Fi. It’s faster than the mobile phone data service in my neighborhood because there’s only one cell tower available to us. The signal may register as LTE, but the speed is like 3G.

My older son, Joseph, gave Josie a Samsung Galaxy S3 when she was visiting his family near London, England. Jon gave me his Samsung Galaxy S4 when he upgraded to an S6. They both do what we need them to do, for both mobile phone service and Wi-Fi.

I don’t expect our costs to go beyond $80 a month anytime soon. That’s important because my income is fixed and limited. My car payment (just under $250 a month) is what eats up most of my budget. Thankfully, I have less than four years left on my car loan. At least the car insurance is cheap.

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By RT Cunningham
February 7, 2017
Cell Phones