PLDT forecast strong revenue growth this year after booking profit and revenue gains in 2020 driven by demand for mobile data, as it steps up its network investment.

Chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan said it expects high single-digit growth in consolidated service revenue and telecom revenue in 2021 “anchored on the sustained demand for our data and broadband services”.

“Our key learnings from the [Covid-19 (coronavirus)] pandemic can be summed up in two words: transform and perform. We have endeavoured to keep PLDT at the forefront of digital changes, and we are enabling other companies to similarly adopt the digital mode of doing business.”

Pangilinan said it will continue to invest heavily in its networks, earmarking PHP88 billion ($1.8 billion) to PHP92 billion in capex for 2021, up from PHP71.9 billion in 2020.

Mobile service revenue increased 6.3 per cent year-on-year to PHP25.2 billion in Q4 2020, with mobile data rising 23 per cent to PHP18.3 billion. SMS fell 49 per cent to PHP1.61 billion and voice was down 16.8 per cent to PHP4.98 billion.

Home broadband grew 22 per cent to PHP9.1 billion and enterprise increased 3 per cent to PHP10.3 billion.

Full year
Net income rose 7.8 per cent to PHP24.3 billion, while consolidated service revenue increased 8 per cent to PHP173.6 billion.

Mobile unit Smart Communications’ prepaid subscriber base was flat at 70.8 million, and post-paid dipped 2 per cent to 2.2 million. Post-paid ARPU rose 2.7 per cent to PHP828: prepaid was steady at PHP113.

Average mobile data usage increased to 8.3GB per month from 6.3GB at end-2019. Smartphone penetration reached 78 per cent, with 71 per cent of connections on its LTE network.

Base station count increased 20 per cent to more than 59,000, with plans for 4,000 more this year.