PLDT shifts mobile internet strategy to accelerate growth

THE PLDT Group is shifting its mobile internet strategy to sell not just connectivity, but service packages that will address Filipinos’ increasing appetite for video, gaming, and other digital content.

The move to “go beyond access” is expected to further bolster Smart Communications’ mobile internet revenues – those coming from smartphone data usage – which rose 20 percent year-on-year to P9.7 billion in the first half of 2017. The strategy seeks to increase the contribution of mobile internet to overall wireless service revenues.

“It’s not just about connectivity anymore. For example, Smart’s latest offer Video Prime 99 comes with subscriptions to top streaming sites iflix and iWant TV. The 2GB data allocation included in the package will give customers internet access, but the key selling point now is the video content that Filipinos can’t seem to get enough of,” said Ernesto Alberto, PLDT and Smart chief revenue officer.

He noted heavy video consumption helped drive the 78 percent spike in data usage on smartphones and dongles in the Smart network to 117,657 terabytes.

“We expect video consumption to further intensify as more Filipinos start to use smartphones,” Alberto said.

Turnaround for wireless individual business

Alberto said the turnaround plan for Smart, particularly its wireless individual business, was centered on increasing data adoption and usage on both smartphones and dongles.

“Our wireless individual business has been impacted by customers’ shift from legacy services like voice and SMS to over-the-top (OTT) services like Facebook Messenger and Viber. This was a disruption that hit the whole industry. But now we have arrested the quarterly decline in revenues through better monetization of data services and increased usage of bandwidth-heavy services like video streaming and gaming,” Alberto said.

Revenues of the wireless individual business went up by P200 million quarter-on-quarter to P14.9 billion in the April-June period.

Mobile data usage on smartphones and dongles brought in P5.9 billion, which is P400 million higher than the previous quarter’s figure.

Mobile data’s contribution to overall wireless individual revenues increased from 37 percent to 40 percent.

Network readiness

Alberto said the PLDT Group continued to modernize its network to support bandwidth-heavy activities.

The group has committed to make LTE progressively available to 95 percent of cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018. LTE, an all-IP network, delivers superior data experience to users. It can also be quickly upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to customers using LTE SIMs on LTE-capable handsets.

“Our strong network, relevant content, and value-packed service offers all help us achieve our goal of providing customers with a digital experience like never before,” Alberto said. (PR)