Text Capital of the World

Worldwide Internet usage by time of day Worldwide Internet usage by time of day. Note that the Philippines never stops being lit up with Internet traffic, and by day it outshines most of the US.

The Philippines has been called “the Texting Capital of the World.”

In 1995, Short Message Service was introduced as a promotional gimmick but soon became very popular. In 1998, Philippine mobile-service providers launched SMS as part of their services, with initial television marketing campaigns targeting hearing-impaired users. The service was initially free with subscriptions, but Filipinos quickly began using the feature to communicate for free instead of using voice calls, which they would be charged for. After telcos caught on to this, they soon started charging for SMS. The current rate across networks is 1 peso per SMS (about US$0.023). Though users were now charged for SMS, it remained very cheap, about one-tenth of the price of a voice call. This low price led to about five million Filipinos owning a cell phone by 2001.

Because of the highly social nature of Philippine culture and the affordability of SMS compared to voice calls, SMS usage shot up, and texting quickly became a popular tool for Filipinos to keep in touch with their friends and loved ones. Filipinos used texting not only for social but also for political purposes, as it allowed the Filipinos to express their opinions on current events and political issues. As a result, it became a powerful tool for Filipinos in promoting or denouncing certain issues and was a key factor during the 2001 EDSA II revolution, which overthrew then-President Joseph Estrada.

According to 2009 stats, five years ago there were about 72 million mobile-service subscriptions (roughly 80% of the Filipino population), with around 1.39 billion SMS messages being sent in the Philippines daily. Because of the large amount of text messages being sent by Filipinos, the Philippines became known as the “text capital of the world.”


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