PLDT Inc’s mobile phone business grew 20% year-on-year in the first half of 2019 on the back of a surge in mobile data revenues which now account for two-thirds of total revenues.
Service revenues of its individual wireless business, which includes consumer sales of its Smart, Sun and TNT mobile brands, jumped to P34.4 billion, driven by the continued growth of mobile data traffic, which more than doubled in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year.
This upturn was made possible by the growing subscriber base of Smart, TNT and Sun, increased adoption by these subscribers of LTE SIMs and LTE smartphones, mounting usage of online video services and mobile games, and a clearly higher level of customer experience provided by the superior network of the PLDT Group.
More subs on LTE
Smart, TNT and Sun added 8.7 million new subscribers in the first half of 2019, bringing the total to over 66.8 million as of end-June 2019. Moreover, a growing number of these customers have shifted to LTE SIMs and LTE smartphones.
Taking off from last year’s Free YouTube promo, the current Video Everyday promo further pushed the growth of video usage. In addition to the additional 43% increase in YouTube users, the number of viewers of the NBA, iWant and iflix video services have also more than doubled.
The new Giga Gaming platform was also a growth driver in the first half of the year, with the number of unique new Mobile Legends gamers on the network increasing by more than 160% from end-2018 to end-June 2019. More significantly, data traffic from Mobile Legends users more than tripled in the first half of 2019.
“Our earlier YouTube promos have already succeeded in making video viewing and mobile games very popular among our Smart subscribers who, not coincidentally, have made the biggest shift to LTE SIMs and devices,” said Oscar Enrico A. Reyes Jr., PLDT Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Business—Individual Group.
“Our thrust for the balance of 2019 is to bring these compelling services to low- and non-data users, who we are targeting to move up to LTE SIMs and devices so they can start experiencing our superior LTE network service,” he added.
Fastest fixed, mobile networks
Powering these services is PLDT and Smart’s sustained fixed and mobile network roll out and modernization. PLDT’s total fiber infrastructure spanning over 283,000 kilometers at the end of June also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to its more than 19,000 LTE base stations.
“The roll-out of our fiber network remains the cornerstone of our network build out. That is because fiber not only provides the best possible internet service for home and enterprise. It is also crucial to the ongoing deployment of LTE, and, in the future, 5G,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.
PLDT has set aside an historic-high capital expenditure program in 2019 amounting to P78.4 billion, to further enhance the reach and capacity of its fiber-powered fixed line broadband network and LTE and 3G mobile networks, as well as modernize its IT support systems.
The beneficial impact of this capex program has been validated once again by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. In its July 2019 report, Ookla once again cited PLDT and Smart for being the Philippines’ fastest fixed and mobile data internet services provider, this time for the first half of 2019. The report, which was based on millions of user-initiated tests, showed PLDT and Smart posting download and upload speeds that are double that of the competition.
The Ookla awards are the latest in PLDT and Smart’s string of network superiority citations from several independent third-party firms, including OpenSignal, Canadian-based Tutela, and global benchmarking leader P3 communications GmbH.