Sustained investments in the network enabled PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) to satisfy increased demand for mobile data services.
Mobile data services accounted for 78% of Consumer Wireless revenues in the first quarter of 2021.
Among these active data users is Bacolod student Cloe Anne Marie Malaga, who shifted to Smart Prepaid for online learning. “I needed a more reliable network that could consistently connect me to my online classes. When I experienced Smart’s stable and fast internet, not only did I become a believer but an advocate as well,” said Malaga, Psychology student at Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in Negros Occidental.
Smartphones on the network grew to 85%, from 78% as of end-2020. Mobile data traffic during the first quarter of 2021 was at 777 petabytes, up 32% compared to the same period last year. Active data users as of end-March 2021 were at 39.7 million, while average monthly mobile internet data usage stood at 7.63 GB.
"We continue to champion connectivity as a fundamental human right. We at PLDT and Smart believe that every Filipino deserves to have world-class Internet," said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, adding that the company's push for 5G last year has helped lift Smart's overall speeds. "We are leading this charge and it will only continue to improve network performance for us. Our Network teams will continue to ensure that we maintain Internet speed leadership in the market," he added.
PLDT's Consumer Wireless revenues hit ₱22.1 billion in the first three months of 2021, up by 7% or ₱1.4 billion compared to the same period last year.
Responding to customers’ clamor, Smart launched world-class campaigns and product offers addressing customer passion points. These include the upgraded Smart Signature SIM-Only plans, exclusively bundled with a Netflix Mobile Plan subscription. Smart also launched the country's first unlimited offer on 5G called Smart Unli 5G, and other innovative data products such as All Data, which offers shareable data for all sites, and Magic Data, which offers non-expiring data for all sites.
"Apart from having strengthened our brand equity via our Fastest Data Network proposition and mounting a number of major campaigns around that brand promise, it is even more important is that we substantiate the claim with better experiences for our customers," said Jane J. Basas, Smart SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business. "Our data innovations will only make sense if they are enabled by a powerful network and a better experience--and these are things that the Smart 4G and 5G networks can deliver."
Smart has also ramped up its efforts to widen its array of Smart 5G-certified devices to make 5G easier to access and enjoy. Smart’s recently launched Rocket WiFi is the country’s first and fastest 5G Pocket WiFi, which enables 5G speeds on other devices with a Wi-Fi connection. Smart's 5G network was also recently recognized by Ookla as the country's Fastest 5G Network. To date, Smart forges on with the nationwide rollout of its commercial 5G service as it expands the country's most extensive 5G network to over 2,600 sites nationwide.
Underpinning this level of performance is PLDT's fiber infrastructure, the country's most extensive at more than 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021. This fiber network also supports Smart's mobile network, which covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.