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The Philippines Mobile Market Moves Towards 5G
Despite competition from new carriers and mobile operators, PLDT has continued to be the Philippines’ dominant fixed-line and mobile provider. And as such has been a large part of the momentum in the country’s telecom market. Nevertheless, PLDT’s role has not gone unchallenged and in recent years Globe Telecom in particular has been pushing hard to overhaul the incumbent. In recent few years, the major operators have also been forced to cope with the pressures of slowing growth in traditional areas of the market and rising investment needs for new growth areas such as consumer broadband.
Broadband is finally building a healthy subscriber base, boosted by the considerable presence of mobile services in the mix of the various broadband platforms delivering internet access. There has also been good progress in the rollout of optical fibre infrastructure. In 2016 the President of the Philippines signed the bill to create the new regulator, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The DICT effectively replaces a number of agencies whose functions and responsibilities will be absorbed into the new body. The DICT will develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fibre-optic and wireless technologies across the country. In March 2017 the National Broadband Plan (NBP) was formally approved by the Philippines government. PLDT announced it would roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and is aiming to boost its current homes passed to six million by 2020.
Fixed line penetration in the Philippines has been in decline over the past 10 years. Penetration has declined from 4.6% in 2017 to 3.6% in 2012 and 3.0% in 2016.
A major challenge remained as only a little more than half of all Philippine towns and cities had a basic telephone service.
The mobile subscriber market in the Philippines has displayed strong growth over the past few years in an expanding market. Growth is predicted over the next five years in a maturing and increasingly saturated market. By 2021 mobile subscriber penetration is predicted to reach between over 130%. A key factor in the growth of mobile services is that they have proved to be more effective than fixed-line telephony in adapting to the country’s geographical features.
Mobile ARPU levels have been on a downward trend for a long time in the Philippines as competition in the mobile industry intensified. The operators continue to engage in aggressive price competition in an effort to grab market share.
A feature of the Philippines mobile market has been the near duopoly with Smart together with Globe Telecom maintaining a tight hold on the industry. However Globe Telecom has bridged the gap significantly over the past two years. Globe Telecom has increased its market share significantly over the past few years and now leads the market in terms of market share.
By 2017 both Globe Telecom and PDLT were well underway with the expansion of their 4G networks. Smart Communications has begun switching on faster 4G mobile data services using triple-carrier aggregation LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology. As part of Smart’s three-year deployment plan, PLDT Inc. intends to extend LTE coverage to 70% of the population by end-2017 and 95% of cities and municipalities by 2018.
The mobile broadband subscriber market in the Philippines has grown strongly over the past few years. Further strong growth in predicted over the next two years to 2018. The expansion of mobile broadband services is now providing more opportunities for the technology sector.
The Philippines is already preparing for the move from 4G to 5G. PLDT has signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies to gear up for the launch of 5G technology in the country by 2020. Both companies will jointly conduct research and development on 5G in the Philippines.
Broadband users in the Philippines have a number of high-speed internet access options available to them: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable modem, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), WiMAX and mobile data services. More recently, there has been a major push by market leader PLDT to offer fibre-based services; Globe has been trying to match the PLDT push where it can.
The total broadband market has observed slow to moderate growth over the last five years from a relatively small base of subscribers. Market penetration has increased from 5% in 2011, to 9% in 2014 and 10% in 2016. Moderate growth is predicted over the next five years to 2021. By 2021 broadband market penetration is predicted to reach between over 15%.
PLDT has set aside PHP2 billion over a three-year period to install advanced hybrid fibre technologies.
PLDT announced it would roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and is aiming to boost its current homes passed to six million by 2020.
The mobile subscriber market in the Philippines has displayed strong growth over the past few years in an expanding market.
Globe Telecom and PDLT were well underway with the expansion of their 4G networks.
Globe Telecom launched LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) four component carrier (4CC) spectrum aggregation technology.
PLDT intends to extend LTE coverage to 70% of the population by end-2017 and 95% of cities and municipalities by 2018.
Globe Telecom’s free national Wi-Fi network, offering internet connectivity at speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Companies mentioned in this report:
PLDT, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Liberty Telecom, Altimax, Bayantel, Bell Telecom, Broadband Philippines, Vega Telecom, Bayantel, Digitel, Eastern Telecom (ETPI), Innove (Globe), ABS-CBN Corp.
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