The highly saturated mobile telecom market in the Philippines is forecast to witness moderate growth in the percentage of mobile subscriptions in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Hrushikesh Mahananda, senior analyst of telecoms market data and intelligence at GlobalData, says, “The percentage of mobile subscriptions growth will be less in 2020 as almost half of the country’s population will be staying indoors and also as a result of the temporary shutdown of businesses and travel restrictions would result in fewer SIM sales. Moreover, COVID-19 has a massive impact on the economy, negatively affecting income and new phone sales.
“There is a good opportunity for the telcos to generate revenue through mobile data and fixed broadband plans during the lockdown period. PLDT Inc witnessed an increase in their fixed lines data traffic of 15% to 20% in the first week of community quarantine. The rise in mobile data usage along with an increase in voice calls and text messages were also witnessed by the operator.”
The telecommunications operators in the Philippines are taking effective steps to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and provide essential support to their customers both on new offers and services and also on network coverage. PLDT and Globe have taken certain steps to cater to the increasing Internet and data demand during the 30-day lockdown period. For its fiber broadband subscribers, PLDT is offering free ‘speed boost’, providing a minimum Internet connection speeds of 25 Mbps. PLDT's mobile arm, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), is also offering free access to official websites such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the Philippine Information Agency.
Moreover, to equip COVID-19 medical front-liners with reliable data connectivity, Smart is providing free, fast, and 24/7 Smart Wi-Fi to newly-activated COVID-19 facilities.
Mahananda concludes, “We expect the overall telecom service revenue to witness a slight decline in 2020 over 2019 owing to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and a weaker economic outlook. However, the revenue will return to growth in 2021, driven by rising demand in consumer fixed and mobile broadband services.
“Telcos will witness robust growth in mobile data and fixed Internet usage during the lockdown period as people will rely heavily on their mobile and fixed network connections for their day-to-day activities. During the lockdown, telcos will continue to take significant measures and provide efficient fixed and mobile network connectivity and heavy-bandwidth for video streaming with increased data speeds and capacity to both the consumer and business segments to stay connected.”