AS IT scales up its capital expenditure (capex) this year to P70 billion, Globe Telecom on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, said it plans to beef up its fiber to home connection as homes have been transformed into learning and working sites due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The P70 billion capex aims to execute Globe’s network roll-out strategy that includes aggressive cell site builds, the upgrade of all its sites to Fourth Generation/Long-Term Evolution technology (4G/LTE) and fast-tracking the fiberization of Filipino homes nationwide.
“We will continue to ramp up investments in 2021. ... We have earmarked another record-level cash capital expenditure of about P70 billion, to provide our customers with superior network performance and quality of service as we aim to deliver first-world internet connectivity for every Filipino,” said Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu in a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. “We will roll out 2.5x more fiber lines than what we did in 2020. Alongside our network transformation efforts, we are constantly upgrading our 5G connection which is now available in 1,045 areas nationwide.”
According to Cu, the company will focus on boosting its home broadband segment as many Filipinos are still stuck at home, glued on the internet for learning, shopping, seeking entertainment and working from home.
“The challenge is in the home. As you know the Philippines has been behind in rolling out Fiber because we all prioritized the mobile side. It is only now when the demand shifted to the home that we are shifting some of the priorities,” said Cu.
Cu noted setting up the Fiber connection is even more challenging given the country’s geography and topography on top of the different jurisdictions the company has to deal with. He said the Anti-Red Tape Act and the Bayanihan Law’s streamlining of processes have helped them reach out to more homes last year.
“Buoyed by the robust demand for fast and reliable internet connection, the home broadband business enjoyed a banner year with double-digit growth, posting a 23 percent year-on-year increase from the P21.7 billion posted in 2019 to a record P26.8 billion as of end-December of 2020,” Globe said in its disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
“Total home broadband subscriber base now stands at 3.8 million, up 88 percent from 2019, propelled by the sustained increase of fixed wireless broadband users, now up by 122 percent from last year. As of end-December of 2020, home prepaid WiFi data traffic surged to 545 petabytes from 115 petabytes in 2019,” it added.
Issa Cabreira, deputy chief commercial officer of Globe Telecom, said the surge of home broadband will continue this year.
“The broadband momentum will continue. We imagine the relevance of broadband and the reliance of many Filipinos in home connectivity will be sustained. That is why we are continuing the build out for home connectivity as well,” said Cabreira, adding that expansion in the home broadband business will continue in the next two years.
Globe ended 2020 with consolidated service revenues of P146.4 billion, a moderate decline of two percent from the record level of P149.0 billion reported in 2019.
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted revenues across all businesses except for home broadband which sustained its double digit growth.
Total data revenues across mobile, broadband and corporate data accounted for 76 percent of total service revenues from 71 percent last year. This was mainly driven by the increased data consumption in the country, as more Filipinos incorporated working, learning, shopping and seeking entertainment from home as part of their new normal, the company said.
Globe invested a total of P60.3 billion in capex in 2020, surpassing 2019’s record level spending by 18 percent. Also, 2020 capex represented 41 percent of gross service revenues and 82 percent of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. About 86 percent of the capex went to data-related requirements to meet the growing data demands of Filipinos nationwide.
Despite the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Globe was able to build close to 1,300 new cell sites or cell towers, up from 1,100 the previous year. Also, the aggressive modernization of its existing network infrastructure resulted in a total of 11,529 site upgrades to 4G/LTE in 2020, higher than the 10,135 in 2019.
Moreover, Globe deployed 5G sites in Metro Manila, as well as certain cities in Visayas and Mindanao, making 5G available in 1,045 areas in the country. (KOC)