Despite the challenges, Globe posted ₱146.4 billion in consolidated service revenues for 2020, only 2% below last year’s record level. Consolidated EBITDA stood at ₱73.5 billion, reflecting a 50% EBITDA margin for the year. Consolidated net income declined to ₱18.6 billion versus last year’s reported ₱22.3 billion.
Notwithstanding the difficulties posed by the pandemic, we are proud of what we achieved this year, not only in terms of our business performance but also on the significant improvements in our network, as well as our sustainability and nation-building efforts.
In a bid to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the country was placed under varying levels of community quarantine throughout the year, a move that, while necessary, brought about fear and uncertainty to the general population. Recognizing that communications and connectivity are of paramount importance in these turbulent times, the company set to work, ensuring the safety of employees, providing support for customers, and extending aid for the nation. Staying true to our purpose of “treating people right to create a Globe of Good” the company’s #SafeAtHome campaign was launched to provide much needed relief and assistance across all customer segments.
At the height of the pandemic, Globe raised over ₱1.3 billion in combined services and assistance packages for its stakeholders, including financial support for employees and vendors, special services and promos for customers, fund-raising efforts, and donations. Support was also extended to aid the national government such as toll-free hotlines, free WiFi in hospitals, airports, supermarkets, and zero-rated access to government and health-related websites, among others. Globe extended a 60-day credit facility to mobile and broadband postpaid customers and enterprise clients while under enhanced community quarantine. In addition, we also launched an installment payment program and a financial care program to help customers lighten their payment burden due to the pandemic. Exclusive product offers such as the Saludo MSMEs postpaid broadband plan with higher data speeds were also extended to Filipino MSMEs through Globe myBusiness.
Shifting Behavior to Digital
With the nation under enhanced community quarantine, the Philippine digital landscape was altered, characterized by accelerated data adoption and consumption centered around the home. Data connectivity became essential for work, learning, entertainment, shopping, socializing, communication, and more. To cater to the changing needs and habits of consumers, we recalibrated our products and services, offering larger data allocations and introducing shareable data plans and promos for our 80.4 million mobile and broadband subscriber base. Realizing that the country was going through a prolonged period of quarantine, Globe introduced various e-learning solutions to support the country’s online learning initiatives. These included special data promos tailored towards educational apps to partnerships with local governments for city-wide home-based learning and Wi-Fi programs.
To make the internet more accessible, we launched KonekTayo, a community WiFi service that promises easy access and affordability. By partnering with various local governments, we are accelerating the availability of internet access to communities across the country. Expanding upon KonekTayo WiFi, we also launched the KonekTayo School Bus WiFi campaign, an innovative solution that equipped school buses with special antennas that would broadcast WiFi signals in certain areas in Manila City. These efforts also contribute to the goal of ensuring inclusive and quality education for all, as internet connectivity has become a necessary tool to enable online learning during this time.
We likewise faced challenges at the customer service front. Since the issuance of the lockdown, the BPO community was particularly challenged as BPO employees were also greatly impacted and their workstations at home are not secure enough to handle customer data. This posed a large challenge in our after sales service, which brought down our overall net promoter score. Thankfully, we pivoted immediately by introducing digital solutions like the Globe One app and the Globe At Home app, implementing a no-inbound agent service model so that the limited BPO employee agents manning our hotlines can focus on the more complex and trouble-shooting transactions.
The pandemic brought to the fore digital solutions and services to enable the Filipino digital lifestyle. Through GCash, we have positioned ourselves as change agents, aiming to provide services beyond telecommunications. GCash became the number one finance app in the country with 33 million registered users and over ₱1 trillion in gross transaction value in 2020. Its active user base grew 3.7 times over the course of the year and is now ahead of global social media and entertainment apps such as Spotify, Viber, and Tiktok. As the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines, GCash is moving closer to realizing its vision of providing finance for all.
Aside from mobile payments, telehealth services also play the important role of making health services more accessible and alleviating some of the burden from hospitals and health institutions who may be operating at capacity during this health crisis. Through our corporate incubator 917Ventures, over 828,000 customers have access to KonsultaMD, a telehealth platform which reported a record 461% increase in consultations as a result of the community quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and the rest of the country. In August, 917Ventures, in partnership with Ayala’s AC Health, also launched the telehealth service and app HealthNow which expands upon KonsultaMD’s remote consultation services to include online ordering and delivery of medicine, as well as scheduling of clinic appointments. Since its launch, HealthNow has gained over 45,000 users.
Network Improvement Initiatives
With the acceleration of digital adoption also comes the need for an improved network infrastructure to keep up with the growing demand for faster and better internet connectivity. Heeding the government’s call for improved services, Globe embarked on yet another ambitious network upgrade centered around three main strategies. First is to accelerate cell site builds to expand data coverage and capacity. Second is to upgrade all existing sites with 4G/LTE for improved coverage and data speeds using multiple frequencies. Third is to fast track the roll-out of fiber to the home for the burgeoning demand for better home connectivity solutions.
With the implementation of enabling laws, the permitting processes for telecommunication infrastructure were finally streamlined. Through these, we were able to make significant inroads towards the betterment of our network and service. With a record-high capital spending of ₱60.3 billion, we built close to 1,300 new cell sites this year, 18% more than the previous year. The company was able to complete 4G/LTE upgrades for 11,529 sites, which resulted in improved service consistency scores across 16 out of 17 regions, according to independent mobile analytics provider Ookla. Catering to the growing demand for fast and reliable home connectivity solutions, wired broadband roll-out was also accelerated to deploy around 600,000 high-speed broadband lines for the year. Continuing this pace into 2021, Globe commits to a new record-level spend of ₱70 billion for capital expenditures, targeting to build 2,000 new cell sites and roll-out 1 million fiber lines to homes.
Simultaneously, we expanded our 5G footprint, which now covers 1,069 areas nationwide. 5G technology, with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth, and better connection stability, will bring us closer toward our goal of providing Filipinos with a first-world internet experience.
We should note that with all the years of continued investments on our network, our customers are once again experiencing the difference and marked service improvement in the same way when we did our first network modernization program in 2011. By the end of 2020, Globe’s massive network investments have contributed to the improvement of the Philippines’ internet speeds. According to the Speedtest® Global Index by Ookla®, the average mobile download speed of the country is at 22.5 Mbps, and average fixed broadband download speed is at 31.44 Mbps, by the end of 2020. Our contribution for leading 5G adoption in the Philippines is also bearing fruit, with the Philippines ranking 10th among APEC countries with median download speed on 5G at 182.50 Mbps based on Ookla Speedtest Intelligence® Q3 2020 data. In terms of internet pricing and affordability, relative to other countries in Asia, the cost of mobile prepaid internet access in the Philippines remains to be among the most affordable at Php11.25 per GB. Finally, the company was named a Global Rising Star in Video Experience by international analytics firm Opensignal in its Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2020.
ESG and Purpose
The pandemic only underscored the importance of our collective purpose, “In everything we do, we treat people right to do a Globe of Good”, as it propelled us to rise above our own challenges and be better every day for our customers, employees and shareholders. Using our sustainability principles to live out our Purpose, we have resolved to include our contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as part of our balanced scorecard.
Arising from the pandemic, the rise of mental health has become a growing concern especially among employees. In response, we piloted HOPECHAT, an online counseling platform that gives users 24/7 access to a psychologist via Messenger. Through these efforts, we hope to make mental health services more visible and accessible so it may reach those who need it. Providing these services via hotline, chat, and webinars, among others further highlights the importance of communication and connectivity services during this time.
To answer the call for climate action, Globe has been actively supporting Race to Zero, a global campaign by the United Nations Framework Convention to rally support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors to shift to a decarbonized economy and achieve net zero emissions. To date, seven (7) of our offices are now running on clean energy, including our headquarters, The Globe Tower. Aside from offices, we also continue to deploy green solutions and decommission legacy machines to achieve energy efficiency for our cell sites.
Underpinning all our efforts towards nation-building is our over 8,000 strong workforce who remain engaged and driven despite working remotely. In fact, employee engagement has improved, with Globe achieving a 93% Sustainable Engagement Score in 2020, a new record high above the 91% score in 2018. As a testament to our organization’s purpose-driven culture, I am also proud to share that our employees raised over ₱27 million through the #OneGlobeVsCOVID initiative, which saw ₱13 million in employee donations, 100% matched by Globe and Singtel.
In closing, I would like to thank our Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Albert de Larrazabal who has been nominated to succeed Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco as Chief Finance Officer of Ayala Corporation. Albert's 14 years of service in Globe began as head of our Treasury Division. He served as Chief Finance Officer in 2010 and took on the role of Chief Commercial Officer in 2015. On behalf of the Company, I would like to thank Albert for his expertise, insights and leadership as part of the management team responsible for driving Globe to become the leading mobile company in the country. Succeeding Albert will be Issa Guevarra-Cabreira who took on the role of Deputy CCO last December 2020. Issa has over 20 solid years of experience leading new and existing businesses and was pivotal in Globe achieving market leadership. She has held various leadership roles in Globe and was formerly the Managing Partner of our corporate incubator 917Ventures. Her well-rounded perspective and deep knowledge of the industry equips her with the ability to steer the team effectively towards the achievement of Globe's goals.
Armed with our purpose, Globe is resolutely marching forward, staying attuned to the new customer, reinventing their experience to make us more relevant and fueling the recovery of the country’s economy. Together with all our stakeholders, we are one with the nation in embarking on our full recovery and prosperous days ahead.