Philippine mobile operator Sun Cellular has launched an international call and text promotion called the Sun Plan 600. Until 31 May, customers can purchase the plan for PHP 600 (about US $15) per month. Subscribers get unlimited on-net calls and SMS messages and 350 messages to other networks. The plan also offers international rates of PHP 2 (US $0.05) per minute for calls and PHP 2 per text to countries including the United States, Canada, Singapore and China.
We like this promotion because attractive international calling and texting rates such as those in the Sun 600 are a key means of fending off the current challenge from OTT providers, which offer free or low-cost international connections. In our view, aggressively pricing international rates will likely decrease customers’ motivation to switch to popular services such as Skype, Google Talk and WhatsApp, and possibly by a significant amount. However, Sun Cellular has done more than simply offer low rates – it has cleverly focused its promotion on countries that subscribers in the Philippines are most likely to call, text or visit. It effectively represents a blueprint for MNOs worldwide: Tailor international plans to customers’ needs, targeting those regions that are most in demand among subscribers. For example, an operator in India should promote low rates to Middle Eastern areas such as the Gulf States, where many Indians go to work and do business.
Moreover, the benefits of such tailored plans are not limited to the consumer market. When contemplating promotions, MNOs should look to the business side, as well – particularly to large enterprises with operations all around the world. In our practice, we see that for multinationals, securing attractive international rates is an important consideration when choosing mobile plans for employees. Therefore, we recommend that an MNO look carefully to see which multinational corporations have a presence in its home country, study the global footprints of those multinationals, then target reduced rates to the main locations where they have operations. For example, a large Canadian company with operations in South Africa may want a plan that has low rates for sending/receiving calls/texts between the two countries. Armed with this information, a South African operator can be well positioned to structure a plan that specifically offers attractive rates to Canada.