Philippines - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 28 Jun 2021 Update History

Report Pages: 122

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Philippines’ telecom sector weathers the Covid-19 storm

The Covid-19 pandemic had a relatively minor impact on the Philippine’s telecom sector in 2020. Subscriber numbers fell in some areas, but this was offset by strong growth in mobile data and broadband usage since a significant proportion of the population transitioned to working or studying from home. Major investment programs covering LTE, 5G, and fibre broadband networks suffered slight delays due to holdups in supply chains, but activity has since ramped up in an attempt to complete the rollouts as per the original schedule.

The major telecom operators had mixed financial results for the past year. PLDT reported record revenues, whereas Globe Telecom’s performance dropped below 2019 levels. The pandemic was partly the cause in both cases: shifts in customer behaviour during the enforced lockdown bolstered mobile data and broadband, whereas Globe Telecom’s leadership of the mobile market saw it suffer to a greater extent overall, as the total number of mobile subscribers fell in the first quarter of 2021. In spite of the setback, both companies predict a positive outlook for growth through the rest of 2021 and into 2022. Overall, the number of mobile subscribers is expected to grow to 153 million by the end of 2021, with the penetration rate approaching 144%.

PLDT and Globe Telecom have maintained their dominance of the Philippines telecom market, despite having their duopoly status removed by the government as far back as 2017. Two new entrants – DITO Telecommunity and NOW Telecom – have since become the third and fourth operators, but delays in their respective launch programs have caused minimal impact to the leaders’ market share. The government remains keen, and committed, to seeing strong competition, growth, and service excellence in the telecom sector, so there is likely to be continued support (financially as well as through legislation such as enabling mobile tower sharing and number portability) to ensure that the sector remains viable for emerging players.

The mobile sector will remain the Philippines’ primary market for telecommunications well into the future. The unique terrain and resulting challenges associated with accessing remote parts of the archipelago means that in many areas fixed networks are neither cost-effective nor logistically viable. Both PLDT and Globe Telecom continue to roll out fixed networks in some urban areas where it remains feasible to do so (primarily to support fixed broadband or — in Globe Telecom’s case — fixed wireless services). However, the bulk of telecoms investment over the coming years will continue to be in 5G and 5G-enabled LTE networks. Coverage of LTE and 5G networks extends to over 95% of the population, and for the vast majority of people mobile will likely remain their only platform for telecom services.

This report update includes the regulator’s market data to March 2021, telcos’ data to Q1 2021, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, and recent market developments.

Key Developments

  • Smart, Global Telecom, and DITO Telecommunity launch 5G commercial services.
  • NOW Telecom secures provisional authority to extend its licence to offer LTE as well as 5G services.
  • DITO launches mobile services.
  • Increase in investment and deployment of new data centres to support content-intensive 5G services, including new entrants such as Alibaba Cloud.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

PLDT, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, DITO Telecommunity, NOW Telecom, Huawei, Nokia, Alibaba Cloud

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