Gray Matter


Cell Service Providers and SIM Cards in the Philippines

RT Cunningham | January 10, 2021 (UTC) | Phones

Cell Service Providers and SIM CardsWhen I moved to the Philippines in 2006, SIM cards confused me. I didn’t know what a “load” was or what cell service providers existed, and I didn’t care. The only person in my family who used a cell phone at the time was my younger son, Jon.

In January 2015, after we returned from the United States, Josie (my wife) and I signed up for cell service and got cheap cell phones from a provider in the Philippines, and we were locked into a two-year contract. After that contract expired, we switched cell phone carriers.

Prepaid, Postpaid and SIM Only Plans

I won’t get into all the details. There are many plans from many cell 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. Inbound calls don’t cost anything. 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 since we already had the phones.

Cell 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 had 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 cell service providers. We switched from Smart to Sun, but we didn’t really switch, you know what I mean?

So, I was paying 2750 pesos (between $55 and $60) a month for DSL, but I was only paying 300 pesos (less than $7) a month for each SIM card. The SIM cards gave us unlimited calls to the Sun, Smart and TNT (a service under Smart) networks and unlimited text to all networks. And this was 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 was getting unlimited data through my DSL connection. Since I spent most of my time at home, I used the DSL for Wi-Fi. It was faster than the mobile phone data service in my neighborhood because there was only one cell tower available to us. The signal sometimes registered as LTE, but the speed was 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 did what we needed them to do, for both cell phone service and Wi-Fi.

When We Return to the Philippines

Through our children, Josie and I have both upgraded our cell phones. She has a Samsung Galaxy J7 (a gift from Joseph), and she’s using it with Wi-Fi only. After all, everyone she talks to uses Facebook Messenger. I have a Samsung Galaxy S10e (a gift from Jonathan). It has a SIM card, and it’s the only phone the two of us use for receiving regular phone calls. We rarely use it to call anyone that anyone is always a local number.

We’re stuck in the United States for the time being. Pre-COVID and post-COVID options mean we have to stick around until most people have received vaccinations. When we finally return to the Philippines, I’ll have to ignore the SIM card in my phone. It won’t work in the Philippines anyway, unless I pay extra for roaming charges. I don’t need a phone number in the Philippines because Wi-Fi is all that Josie and I need.

When used to buy things in the Philippines, from whatever venue we happened to be shopping from, they always asked for our cell phone numbers. It will be a pleasure telling them we have no cell phone numbers when we return. They never seem to care for landline numbers and that’s probably because cell phone to landline or vice-versa costs extra.

Photo Attribution: Free-Photos from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in March 2017.

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