MANILA, Philippines — Telco players expect sustained demand for internet service even with the return to face-to-face classes, although surging inflation could harm the purchasing power of Filipinos and force them to lessen their load purchases.
PLDT Inc. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan believes that demand for telco products may stay the same even with the resumption of in-person classes, saying that mobile phones form part of the learning tools that many schools use.
Pangilinan said PLDT has yet to assess the impact of the return to face-to-face schooling on its business, but that demand for mobile internet could take a hit as academic institutions move out of hybrid learning.
“I guess it would impact the online part of it, but to a fact that children will be off to school they will have to use their mobile phones I suppose. So we don’t know yet what the actual impact is,” Pangilinan said in an interview with reporters.
PLDT’s mobile revenues from data services covering mobile internet and broadband jumped by six percent to P70.64 billion last year, from P66.73 billion in 2020. The telco giant attributed the income growth to bloated demand for data connectivity during the pandemic.
Revenues from mobile internet, in particular, went up by six percent to P66.32 billion, due to the increase in data usage for video, social media and gaming.
However, Dito Telecommunity Corp. chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago said inflation may decrease the frequency and volume of load purchases made by customers.
Santiago said the sustained rise in commodity prices could drive Filipinos to reduce the number of service providers that they subscribe to.
Also, Santiago said consumers may start evaluating the benefits that they get from the internet promos they usually buy. He expects telco subscribers to put a premium not just on the cost, but also on the duration and quality of the data services they pay for.
Inflation, or the average increase in commodity prices, rose to 6.1 percent in June, the fastest in almost three years. As such, inflation in the first half of the year averaged 4.4 percent, breaching the government’s target of just two percent to four percent.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan said PLDT supports the resumption of in-person classes for the gains it will bring to the economy, but asked that health protocols be strengthened to safeguard students from the risk of infection.
“When kids go to school, they have to spend for their baon, they have to take the transportation, everything just gets reenergized as a consequence of people’s mobility,” he added.