Globe mobile data sustains growth momentum; mentions need for more cell sites, spectrum to improve internet services
Globe Telecom’s mobile data revenues continued to underpin growth in the first three months of the year amid continuing demand for data services and popularity of data-driven products and applications as more and more consumers adopt a digital lifestyle. This is reflective of the company’s strategy to expand its mobile data footprint by continuously enhancing network capacities.
Mobile data revenues in the first quarter soared 62%, reaching P9.1 billion compared with P5.6 billion reported in the year-earlier period. When lumped with the company’s home broadband and corporate data revenues of P3.5 billion and P2.3 billion, respectively, the company’s total data revenues now represent 50% of its total service revenues, up from 36% in the year-earlier period. The company’s mobile data revenues also accounted for 40% of total mobile service revenues in the first quarter of 2016, compared with 26% contribution in the first quarter of 2015.
Globe President & CEO Ernest Cu said mobile data growth has drawn support from the company’s market-relevant data offers, availability of low-priced data capable devices and a strong and reliable data network. “We believe that the Globe brand is extremely strong in its positioning as the smartphone network of choice and the data growth is reflective of that. As the strategy is to continue to be aggressive in the market, we continue to make investments to enhance our wireless network so we have more capacity on the ground. We expect to see mobile data business to continue growing,” said Cu.
A steady growth in the company’s mobile customers, reaching 57.3 million at the end of the first quarter from 48.4 million in the year-earlier period also provided support for mobile data, Cu said. The company’s mobile revenues totaled P23.1 billion in the first quarter of the year, up 7% from P21.6 billion a year earlier. This supported consolidated revenues to reach P29.9 billion, a 14% jump from P26.2 billion in the year-earlier period. Net profit stood P4.3 billion, a 3% increase from P4.2 billion a year earlier.
Following a successful network modernization program that saw mobile data exploding in the Philippines, Globe has embarked on another nationwide infrastructure program to enhance the country's internet experience involving, among others, capacity expansion for its mobile network using different technologies including 3G, LTE and even Wi-Fi.
Mobile data explosion in the country, amid steady growth in smartphone penetration, requires more bandwidth than traditional voice and text messaging services. However, the total number of unique cell sites in the country is disproportionate against burgeoning data traffic. The Philippines, an archipelago, currently has about 17,000 cell sites. Comparing this to Vietnam, which has similar population density although in a contiguous land area, has 55,000 cell sites.
The marked increase in data traffic coupled with the lack of cell sites prompted Globe to call for support from local government units to help make the current condition conducive to build more cell sites and reduce the existing infrastructure gap. By building more sites, telco service providers will be able to provide better internet experience for its customers. Cu has emphasized that construction of additional cell sites addresses the need for additional bandwidth necessary in transmitting enormous amount of data. Today, building a cell site involves about 25 permits with at least 8 months lead time. LGU assistance can help reduce the lead time if not facilitate less permits. Aside from cell sites, another area that needs improvement is the harmonization of spectrum. Spectrum is needed for increased bandwidth especially for mobile data use.
As part of its effort to improve the internet experience of its customers, Globe has embarked on an initiative of creating an internet super highway nationwide. Specifically, the company plans to deploy fiber optics in 20,000 barangays by 2020, aimed at providing ultra-fast internet access to around 2 million homes nationwide. A pilot roll out of fiber broadband technology is already ongoing in Binondo, Manila, which when completed will provide world-class internet experience with speeds of up to 1Gbps by July 2016.
Pending the completion of an internet super highway, Globe deployed ultra-fast Wi-Fi connection with speeds of up to 100 Mbps in various Ayala malls namely Serendra, Glorietta, Trinoma, Ayala Center Cebu, Alabang Town Center, Marquee Mall, Market! Market!, UP Town Center, Harbor Point, Centrio, Fairview Terraces and Greenbelt.