PLDT grows wireless revenues as customers shift to LTE


PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications increased its mobile data revenues by 20% year-on-year to P13.4 billion in the first half of 2018, as more customers heeded its call to upgrade their SIM cards and devices to LTE to experience the country’s fastest data network.

Customer migration to LTE contributed to higher data usage, with data traffic in the Smart network rising by 78%. Monetization of data usage likewise improved, as evidenced by mobile data’s increased share in PLDT’s wireless individual revenues – from 38% in mid-2017 to 45% in mid-2018.

For several months now, Smart has been encouraging its customers to go to the nearest Smart Store to have their non-LTE SIM replaced with an LTE SIM for free. This SIM, when used with an LTE-capable handset, will enable the customer to enjoy the fastest mobile internet service that is commercially available in the country, as recognized in the latest survey by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.

The campaign has been successful, with 57% of active Smart subscribers now using an LTE SIM. Moreover, the number of new LTE handsets in the Smart network rose by 75% in the first half of the year. LTE handsets now make up a third of devices on the Smart network, surpassing the number of 3G phones.

Win-win for Smart, customers

“This means that more of our customers are enjoying the fastest LTE service in the country. As their mobile internet experience improves, they try out more data services, especially as we provide attractive offers such as the Free YouTube promo,” said PLDT and Smart Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Ernesto R. Alberto.

He shared that just three months after the SIM upgrades, the average revenue per user (ARPU) among prepaid subscribers went up by 16%.

Alberto added that Smart’s increasing data revenues drove the 2% year-on-year growth in overall wireless individual service revenues to P29.9 billion in the first six months of 2018. This modest upswing was actually a sharp turnaround from the year-on-year decline registered in the first half of 2017.

Continuous rollout

Alberto said Smart expects to maintain its momentum with the continued rollout of its network. As of end-June, Smart had installed more than 3,900 LTE base stations, increasing the total count by 45% to over 12,600. This enables Smart to improve its LTE coverage, as well as to activate LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) which offers even higher data speeds and capacity.

In addition to network upgrades, Smart is also working with device manufacturers to make more LTE and LTE-A-capable devices available in the market.

These network expansion and modernization efforts are supported by PLDT’s capital expenditures program for which P58 billion has been earmarked for this year.