Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) attributes the increase in data subscribers to its GIGA campaign that is customized based on the types of users. PLDT’s wireless subsidiary reported that nearly 50% of the group’s subscribers are now regular data users.
The different Giga data packages allow subscribers to share across different social media platforms, which Smart said spurred the growth. Other data packages include Giga Video, Giga Games, and the recently launched Giga Work and Giga Study data offers. Smart also recently unveiled Giga PRO, which includes a generous combination of open access data allocation plus 3GB per day of any Giga offer, whether Giga Video, Study, Work, Games, or Stories.
Mobile data traffic growth
Driven by customer demand for video, social media, and mobile games, mobile data traffic more than doubled from a year ago to 1.3 exabytes (1,368 PB) in the first half of 2020.
Rising data usage has continued to power the revenue growth of PLDT’s consumer wireless individual business despite pandemic restrictions during the period.
The consumer wireless individual group posted P39.8 billion in revenues in the first half of the year, up by 16% year-on-year. Data accounted for 73% of the total Consumer Wireless revenues, up from 66% in the first half of 2019 and 45% in the comparable period in 2018.
According to the telecommunications firm, PLDT and Smart’s “robust integrated fixed and wireless networks were able to handle the sharp surge of internet traffic as people worked and studied at home, and as businesses relied on online services to keep serving their own customers during the quarantine period.” It reported that from February to May, mobile data traffic on Smart’s network jumped about 30%, while PLDT’s fixed broadband data traffic rose around 20% during the same period.
There was also a major shift in data traffic away from the commercial business districts (CBDs) which have the existing built-up network capacity to the less well-provisioned residential areas. These factors adversely impacted the speed and availability of internet services immediately after the lockdown. In response, the network teams of PLDT and Smart quickly implemented targeted expansions of capacity outside the CBDs and boosted the capacity of its international internet cable systems by 65%.
LTE base stations
In the first half of 2020, Smart said it increased the number of its LTE base stations by 10% compared to end-2019. It also increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 Smart base stations are now providing additional capacity for its LTE network.
Smart’s mobile network is supported by PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which provides high-capacity links to LTE base stations and is now nearly 360,000 kilometers nationwide.
The PLDT Group’s network investments, which totaled around P260 billion over the past five years from 2015 to 2019, have enabled its networks to carry the exponential growth in traffic and to bring new technologies such as LTE and 5G. Amid the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to about P70 billion.