A defining era

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

A lot can change in a decade.

I distinctly remember that back in 2011 how revenues from data-related services were just a small portion of PLDT’s total service revenues, which at that time came mostly from SMS or text messaging and voice.

Back in 2010, PLDT officials noted traditional revenue sources such as fixed toll revenues like NDD and IDD were on the decline while new revenue sources such as broadband were on the rise. The company already expected broadband to keep growing given the growing popularity of social networking and new access devices such as tablets and smartphones.

In 2011, PLDT registered total broadband and internet revenues of P18.8 billion, with the two accounting for 12 percent of consolidated service revenues. At that time, most of the revenues were still coming from SMS.

Fast forward to 2021.

PLDT announced recently that data and broadband accounted for 77 percent of consolidated service revenues last year, while voice, SMS, and international long distance contributed 32.4 percent, 6.4 percent, and 3.6 percent respectively.

By consumer group, data and broadband was 82 percent of service revenues for home, 80 percent for individual, and 72 percent for enterprise.

Of the P139.7 billion service revenues generated from data and broadband, P70.3 billion came from mobile data, P42.6 billion from home broadband, P22 billion from corporate data, and P4.8 billion from ICT. Most noticeable is the 29 percent increase posted by home broadband.

In 2021, there were 42.6 million active data users in the individual group compared to 38.4 million in 2020. Meanwhile, average mobile data usage per subscriber rose to 7.6 GB during the fourth quarter of 2021 from seven GB in the same period in 2020. Mobile data traffic likewise increased to 3,337 petabytes from 2,880 petabytes in 2020 or a growth of 16 percent.

Broadband subscribers also went up to 3.95 million subscribers in 2021 from 3.90 million in 2021 or an increase of 21 percent.

That of fixed line rose 19 percent to 3.6 million while mobile subscribers went down by two percent, from 72.9 million in 2020 to 71.2 million last year.

As more and more subscribers demand for faster and more reliable internet service ergo the switch, fiber accounted for 69 percent of total revenues for the Home group compared to only 47 percent in 2020.

Late last year, PLDT announced that it plans to triple its domestic network capacity to 92 terabits by the end of 2021 from the previous year’s 30 Tbps, to deal with a surge in demand from its users. Data bandwidth-hungry applications, according to PLDT president and CEO Al Panlilio, have massively increased the telco’s utilization rate.

In an article posted in usg.edu, it is said that January 1, 1983 was the official birthday of the internet. Prior to this, the various computer networks did not have a standard way to communicate with each other. Netscape was one of the first commercial browsers on the scene until Microsoft got serious about internet Explorer.

But of course, the internet’s usage was limited. There was available information on it.

But the internet actually had its roots in the US in the 1950s but at that time, the computers were large and expensive machines exclusively used by military scientists and university staff.

Then came electronic mail.

Between 1986-1987, the network on the internet grew from 2,000 hosts to 30,000 as people started using the net to send message to each other, read news, and swap files, according to scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk. By 1995, the internet and the World Wide Web became an established phenomena when Netscape Navigator had around 10 million global users.

In the 1990s and about 25 years ago, the internet was still young was relatively unknown and Google wasn’t there yet. Until someone uploaded a stolen tape on the internet, everyone became interested, changing the Internet forever. Porn then became the most searched thing on the internet. That uploaded tape helped the fledgling internet gain popularity.

It was former US Vice President Al Gore who is credited for being the first political leader to recognize the importance of the internet as well as the need to promote and support its development.

In sponsoring his 1991 bill, Gore envisioned a national network that would provide for teleconferencing, link computers to millions of computers around the country, give one access to huge digital libraries for information, and deliver services one cannot yet imagine. Contrary to what he has been quoted as saying, he did not create the internet, but instead he helped create a more supportive federal environment that accelerated its development, form and diffusion.

In 1995, there was a movie – “The Net” – starring Sandra Bullock which was basically about how the rise of technology impacts our lives, and how according to one of her lines in that movie, “how our entire lives are recorded on computers, from our work to our taste in movies.” There was also a scene in that movie which shows the ability to order pizza online without speaking to another person. Everything was exaggerated and mostly fictional in that movie. But not anymore today.

We would not have lived through this COVID-19 pandemic without the internet and digital technology. Everyone was just a chat away. We knew what was happening everywhere in the world even if we were forced to stay at home. People were able to entertain themselves via Netflix or other video on demand providers. Education and work would not have been possible at the height of the virus transmission if not for alternative online methods. Ordering pizza online was no longer a stuff from the movies.



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