Smart to saturate countryside with low-end P500 phones

Employing for the first time a direct-selling approach, telecom giant Smart Communications has unveiled a plan to invade the rural areas with a P500-phone package under its Talk ‘N Text brand.

In a press launch Thursday, Smart officials said the launch of the low-priced prepaid handset bundle, dubbed Talk ‘N Text Panalo Phone, signals a fresh drive to gain more ground in the lower D and E market.

The telecom operator said it is deploying a direct-to-consumer marketing strategy employed by consumer firms in selling their products. This means that the phone bundle won’t be available in malls or big retail stores – at least not yet – and will be sold only through distributors and roving sales teams.

The Talk ‘N Text Panalo Phone kit includes a new handset with a built-in Talk ‘N Text SIM, pre-loaded with free SMS. Specially-developed SMS bucket offers will also be available for as low as P5.

Smart officials discuss the Talk ‘N Text Panalo Phone in a press briefing on Thursday.

With the Panalo Phone’s price, the telco leader is banking on the bundled product to help put a cellphone in the hands of about 11 million or so Filipinos that still don’t have or can’t afford a cellphone.

“Offering quality services and making them affordable and accessible to what they now call ‘the base of the pyramid’ is built into Smart’s DNA. This is where and how we grew,” said Orlando B. Vea, chief wireless advisor and co-founder of Smart.

The mobile phone that comes with the package is provided by Cherry Mobile and ZTE.

Nice move from Smart.

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