Philippines telecoms operator PLDT posted continued gains in mobile data revenue and subscribers in the second quarter, with its profit edging up despite a sharp increase in network capex.

A 38 per cent jump in mobile data revenue to PHP12.5 billion ($241 million) fuelled an 8 per cent increase in total mobile service turnover to PHP21.6 billion. Mobile voice and SMS revenue were down 15 per cent and 41 per cent to PHP6.01 billion and PHP2.56 billion, respectively. Data traffic in the quarter more than doubled from Q2 2018.

In a statement, Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of PLDT (pictured, centre), said: “We have sustained our revenue growth, led by our consumer wireless business, by significantly improving customer experience through superior network services and targeted service offers. Moving forward, we shall bolster this momentum by further enhancing customer experience across our various businesses through strategic organisational adjustments and the ongoing overhaul of our IT systems and customer service processes.”

Consolidated service revenue in the April to June quarter rose 6 per cent year-on-year to PHP40.8 billion, marking its fifth consecutive quarterly increase. Net income in H1 was up 4 per cent year-on-year to PHP12.2 billion (the company didn’t break out profit by quarter).

Subscriber gains
PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications added more than 9 million mobile subscribers from end-June 2018 to take its total to 67.6 million at the end of the most recent quarter. Prepaid subs rose 6 per cent, accounting for 96 per cent of the total, and post-paid subs were up 1 per cent.

Prepaid ARPU inched up 1.7 per cent to PHP118, while post-paid was steady at PHP813. The operator said 4G ARPU was nearly double 3G.

H1 capex was 50 per cent higher than in the first half of 2018 at PHP32.7 billion. The operator added 3,000 LTE base stations in the six-month period to end June with 19,200. Capex for the full year is targeted to be up to PHP20 billion higher than the PHP58.5 billion allocated in 2018.

As it extends the rollout of LTE, PLDT said it will continue to prepare for the introduction of 5G, most likely in the first half of 2020.

The company forecast core telecoms revenue in 2019 increasing by PHP2.4 billion from 2018 to PHP26.4 billion, with high double-digit growth in its consumer business and a high single-digit increase in enterprise revenue.

It named chief revenue officer Alfredo Panlilio as president of Smart Communications.