THE telecommunications industry will continue to reap the benefits of the accelerated digital transformation initiatives in the Philippines next year, as evidenced by the sustained rise in demand for connectivity and digital solutions on all fronts—from consumers and businesses to governments.
The year 2021 was a year of sustained growth for telco players, characterized by the continued pursuit of innovation due to the increasing demand in the pandemic for more Internet-based solutions that are now driving the industry to greater heights.
All three telcos recorded strong top-line growth as an offshoot of the pandemic-driven digitalization. Globe recorded P113.6 billion in revenues in January to September, while PLDT netted P143.9 billion during the same period. Barely a year since its foray, Dito Telecommunity is on track to end 2021 with as much as P2.3 billion in revenues.
“Though we are challenged by the continuing health crisis, along with heightened industry competition and catastrophic weather, we remain resilient and have successfully delivered our commitment to keeping everyone connected. Our relentless pursuit for customer-centricity grounds us and has earned us continued growth despite all the challenges,” PLDT President Alfredo S. Panlilio said.
Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel B. Tamano said 2021 was the year Dito made the impossible, possible: Dito, he explained, was able to attract 5 million subscribers in 500 areas in the country in just eight months.
“For me this is the headline point of answer for those people who are saying we have not been earning,” he said.
Globe President Ernest L. Cu, meanwhile, said 2021 is a year when Globe started to transition from being a telecommunications provider into a digital solutions platform, which focuses on innovation to drive the digital economy.
“Building on the strength of Globe’s core business, the company is transforming into a digital solutions group by exploring adjacencies that leverage on its assets, expertise and strategic partnerships. These adjacencies include healthtech, fintech, adtech, logistics tech and e-commerce, among others, consisting of investments into companies, majority of which are housed under 917Ventures and Kickstart,” he said.
RIDING on the momentum built in 2021, all three telco executives painted a rosy outlook for 2022.
Panlilio said both consumers and businesses will drive the demand for digital solutions next year, thus telcos will continue to see growth in their businesses.
“We see continued demand for connectivity in 2022 as hybrid work setup will remain, and focus on digitalizing business operations is seen as a more sustainable route,” Panlilio said.
For his part, Tamano said Dito will be more aggressive next year, given that 2021 proved that there is a demand for a third telco operator.
“It is obvious that there is a market for our service. Now that the economy is opening and we’re able to also start moving into different markets because we will have more commercial areas, I think the future looks bright. We will have some new products, promos and initiatives for 2022,” he said.
Dito is expected to more than double its employees to 2,000 next year, and expand its coverage to 75 percent of the population, adding about 350 more cities and municipalities to its coverage area.
Cu, meanwhile, noted that apart from telco infrastructure builds, the company will focus on developing more digital solutions, particularly in the financial technology space. GCash, its mobile wallet platform, recorded tremendous growth in both transaction volume and user base this year.
“But, apart from fintech, companies in healthtech, fintech, adtech, logistics tech and e-commerce will also benefit from the increase in digital adoption among more Filipinos, resulting in more customers and transaction volumes, and investments,” he said
Meanwhile, just as the year of robust growth was ending, the telco sector was dealt a heavy challenge as Typhoon Odette knocked down its systems in the South.
Globe reported that 40 of its towers in the Visayas and Mindanao were damaged by the typhoon.
PLDT, on the other hand, said “as of December 23, the impact is a combination of loss of commercial power, downed fiber and radio transmission lines and collapsed infra. Though we are still in the process of quantifying the infra impact.”
Dito’s towers were largely unscathed, but some of its aerial fiber lines were damaged.
PLDT reported that as of December 29, it has restored around 98 percent of wireless services in Mindanao, with Surigao del Norte, Siargao, and Dinagat Islands remaining to be fully restored.
It added that for the Visayas, 91 percent of wireless service is up overall, while restoration efforts for fixed-line services is still at 64 percent.
“We continue to work to have the rest of our customers connected as soon as possible, hopefully as access roads are slowly cleared, and commercial power availability stabilizes,” PLDT said.
For its part, Globe said restored sites in thee Visayas are nearly at 70 percent.
“While in Mindanao and Palawan, more areas are seeing significant restoration progress. Globe, through the help of local government units, has made it possible to hasten restoration efforts across different provinces hit by Typhoon Odette,” the company said.
Furthermore, Dito has “installed microwave links in priority areas while work is done on the affected aerial fiber cables, and is continuing work throughout the holidays,” Dito Chief Technology Officer Rodolfo Santiago said.