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Business

PLDT hops on low-cost broadband bandwagon

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
PLDT hops on low-cost broadband bandwagon
In its annual stockholders’ meeting, PLDT officials announced plans to go heavy in the low-cost market by launching new products that cater to customers on a tight budget.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Telco giant PLDT Inc. is making an aggressive push to expand its presence in the low-income sector, joining its industry peers in coming up with prepaid options for broadband services.

In its annual stockholders’ meeting, PLDT officials announced plans to go heavy in the low-cost market by launching new products that cater to customers on a tight budget.

PLDT chairman, president and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said the telco is bringing in thousands of entry-level phones capable of connecting to 5G.

By bundling these budget phones in connectivity services, Pangilinan said PLDT can accelerate 5G adoption in the Philippines, especially in low-income markets. When compared, 5G provides subscribers with faster speeds and lower latency than 4G, meaning apps run smoother, websites load quicker, among others.

However, Ookla reported that 5G access accounts for only 4.3 percent of total connections in the Philippines. Worse, the country ranks ninth among 11 countries in Asia Pacific on 5G adoption, ahead only of India’s 3.8 percent and Malaysia’s 3.7 percent.

“I think we have got deliveries for several thousands of inexpensive 5G phones, which we hope we can propagate, so that adoption of 5G phones and 5G services could expand in this country,” Pangilinan said.

Further, PLDT is launching a low-cost product in July to match the budget services of its rivals, particularly Converge ICT Solutions Inc.’s Surf2Sawa and Globe Telecom Inc.’s GFiber Prepaid.

Right now, the cheapest that PLDT has on its menu is the Fiber Unli 899 that offers unlimited internet with speed of up to 35 Mbps.

Internet service providers Converge and Globe have entered the prepaid segment earlier than PLDT, capturing the retail demand for connectivity in low-income markets. Converge is banking on its prepaid offering to drive revenue and subscriber growth in the coming years.

The demand for sachet-sized connectivity is increasing across the archipelago, as consumers find ways to keep up with price hikes. Inflation has gone on an upward trend since January, reaching 3.9 percent in May, the highest so far this year.

For 2024, PLDT is spending the largest capital expenditures among all telco operators, allocating as much as P78 billion for network upgrades.

The plan is to expand business presence in more greenfield areas this year in line with its commitment to bridge the digital divide in the countryside.

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