DESPITE the decline in its mobile subscribers in 2016 and in the first quarter of this year, PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan remains optimistic that the company will recover this year.
When asked on Tuesday about the performance of the company for the first half and if they were expecting a recovery, Pangilinan said: “We expect to. That’s all I am prepared to say.”
PLDT continued to lose mobile subscribers in the first quarter of 2016, which affected its first quarter earnings. In the first quarter of 2017, the telco giant reported that its consolidated core income fell by 26 percent or by P1.9 billion from a year ago to P5.3 billion, as its mobile subscriber base fell to 63.1 million in the first three months of this year from 68.2 million in the first quarter of 2016.
In a previous interview, Pangilinan said the factors that contributed to this decline were the continuing fall in wireless revenues and the tough competition. He also said both Smart Communications and TNT “lost about 17 million subscribers from 2013 to 2017.”
Nonetheless, at the company’s annual meeting of stockholders held in Makati, Pangilinan announced that PLDT’s first quarter Ebitda (earnings before income, taxes, depreciation, amortization) grew by 7 percent year-on-year, the third consecutive quarter that its Ebitda has increased.
“This puts us on track to meet our full year core income guidance of P21.5 billion,” he said.
Pangilinan said the results in the first quarter were “mixed” yet “encouraging,” noting PLDT’s wireless revenues were 18 percent less, which led to a decline in revenues by 7 percent and recurring core income by 26 percent.
But its home broadband and enterprise businesses saw robust growth, up by 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
“While we can probably take heart from these results, no one is popping open champagne bottles. One quarter does not make a year. Your management knows very well that the road to recovery is long, and the climb will be steep,” Pangilinan said.
Moving forward, he said PLDT has taken and will soon implement more major steps to advance its digital journey.
First in line is to expand its fiber to the home service. “We’ve expanded the footprint of our fiber service to 3.3 million homes passed as of end April, and by end-2017, 4.4 million homes will be passed by then,” he said.
Pangilinan said PLDT is setting up fiber-powered PLDT smart cities in the urban centers as well as in south Metro Manila, with more smart cities in the pipeline.
PLDT is also aiming to widen its LTE mobile data network coverage to 70 percent of the country’s population by end-2017, accelerating the buildout of 3G and LTE coverage.
The telecom and digital service provider has also deployed Smart wi-fi hotspots in traffic prone areas on June 12 along Edsa, promising to follow with more public places in Metro Manila.
Pangilinan added that unit ePLDT plans to launch by end-2017 its 10th data center, raising total capacity to over 9, 000 racks, which is believed to be three times more than its nearest competitor. Lisbet K. Esmael