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Mobile data traffic more than doubles in pandemic

Mobile data traffic more than doubled to 1.3 exabytes (1,368 Petabytes or PBs) in the first half of 2020 versus the same period last year, as customer demand for video, social media and mobile games surged to an all-time high.

The rising data usage continued to power the revenue growth of PLDT’s consumer wireless individual business despite pandemic restrictions during the period.  

In all, 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.  

SIgnificantly, almost 50% of the PLDT group’s subscribers are now regular data users, which has been steadily increasing since 2018.   

PLDT Inc. and Smart Communication Inc.’s  integrated fixed and wireless networks coped with the surge of internet traffic as people worked and studied at home and  businesses relied on online services to serve customers during the quarantine period.

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 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%.  

In the first half of 2020, Smart 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 some P260 billion over the past five years from 2015 – 2019, have enabled its networks to carry the exponential growth in traffic and to bring new

technologies such as LTE and 5G. 

Amidst the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to P70 billion. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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