BATTLEFIELD IN HOME BROADBAND: Telcos brace for intense competition

    Buildup. The DICT targets to put up 3,000 shared towers across the country, mostly in unserved and underserved areas.  
    Buildup. The DICT targets to put up 3,000 shared towers across the country, mostly in unserved and underserved areas.  

    PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. anticipate even more intense competition in the telecommunication industry by 2021, particularly on the broadband market, given the aggressive network rollout by the four major players.

    Competition in the telecom market is focused on the home or the fiber-to-the-home services as the players compete on network rollout, internet speed and quality of product offerings to keep or gain market share.

    As of end September, the country’s mobile subscribers stood at 151 million, of which PLDT had 72.4 million and Globe, 78.2 million. However, there is huge opportunity for growth in the broadband space as the two incumbents have a combined 9.2 million subscribers, of which PLDT has 5.7 million and Globe, 3.5 million.

    Ernest Cu, Globe president and chief executive officer (CEO), said the home or fiber to the home is an open field.

    “There will be intense competition in that segment (broadband), who can deploy much quicker, and of course, who can provide the right service to the public. Bottomline yes, there will be intense competition at home. We’ve seen that in the past. It will be very intense in 2021,” Cu said.

    Globe will allocate bulk of its capital expenditure (capex) by next year on the expansion of its fiber network and its fifth generation (5G) technology rollout.

    Manuel Pangilinan, PLDT chairman and CEO, had said competition will be tough next year.

    “I think DITO (third telco) will launch around March next year. Converge just finished their IPO (initial public offering), probably they are in a better position to compete next year. Of course, Globe will probably be more competitive next year, so we anticipate competition to be intense,” he said.

    DITO Telecommunity Corp. is schedule to start its commercial launch by March 2021. It will offer both mobile and broadband services, with a minimum internet speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps).

    Converge ICT Solutions Inc., the fastest-growing and only pure-play fixed broadband operator in the Philippines, has raised P29.1 billion from its recent IPO. The proceeds will be used to further expand its fiber network.

    The company has captured over 55 percent share of the total residential fixed broadband market subscriptions since 2018, and is posting strong growth in new subscriptions, revenues and profitability over the past several years.

    Cu considers Converge as a threat in the broadband competition. “I do believe they (Converge) are (a threat), and they are a formidable competitor in the broadband space,” he said.

    In the first half of the year, Converge ICT generated P6.5 billion in revenues, a 65 percent growth over the same period last year.

    DITO is targeting to deploy 5G technology next year to meet the 51 Mbps minimum internet speed commitment for July 2021.

    DITO also aims to be the top telecom operator in the country, “We don’t want to remain as third telco that’s why we said we’re the newest telco because we want to be number one. We can’t be number one with a 5 percent subscriber base,” Rodolfo Santiago, DITO chief technology officer, said earlier.

    This year, PLDT has allocated P70 billion for its capex, while Globe earmarked over P50 billion, with the lion’s share allotted for their broadband network improvements.