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Telcos: Pope’s security more important than business

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. said the safety of Pope Francis during his five-day visit to the Philippines is more important than potential revenues.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had directed both PLDT and Globe to switch off cell phone signals in Metro Manila as well in areas visited by the pope since his arrival last Jan. 15.

PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto said that the PLDT Group does not mind forgoing potential revenues to make sure that Pope Francis is safe and secure.

“Of course, this is why we have cooperated with the government on this matter,” Isberto replied when asked if the security and safety of the visiting pope are more important than potential huge revenues.

He added that the PLDT Group that includes wireless subsidiaries Smart and Sun Cellular has yet to determine the impact of the disruption of mobile services on the company’s finances.

“It is too early to say. I don’t have the data at this point. There are obviously pluses and minuses, but I don’t know how the net figure looks like,” he said.

In its latest public advisory, PLDT said Smart and Sun Cellular temporarily suspended mobile phone services in parts of Metro Manila particularly at the University of Sto. Tomas and the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park that Pope Francis visited.

“This is part of comprehensive efforts to ensure the safety of the Pope and the public,” PLDT said.

The PLDT Group had a subscriber base of 75 million as of end-September comprising 69 million wireless subscribers as well as 3.7 million broadband subscribers and 2.2 million fixed line subscribers.

Smart had 25.7 million subscribers while Talk ‘n’ Text had 27.8 million, and Sun Cellular 15.5 million.

Smart has tied up with Twitter to offer unlimited access to the popular social networking app on mobile phones for free from Jan. 15 to 19 as a public service to millions of Filipinos who want to share their papal visit experience online.

Last Jan. 5, PLDT announced that it was extending its “free Internet” promo by another month or until Feb. 5.

Through the promo, all 69 million Smart, Talk ‘n’ Text and Sun Cellular subscribers all over the country could use their data-enabled cell phones to access the Internet without data charges, for up to 30MB daily.

Last November, PLDT slashed its core income target for 2014 by P2.5 billion to P37 billion due to the intense competition and the changing landscape of the capital-intensive telco industry.

The company also took into consideration the possible impact of the “free Internet” promo launched in late September.

PLDT’s core net income slipped one percent to P28.6 billion in the first nine months of 2014 from P28.8 billion in the same period in 2013 while its reported net income declined by three percent to P28 billion from P29 billion.

On the other hand, PLDT’s consolidated service revenues inched up by one percent to P122.9 billion from P121.6 billion.

The PLDT Group also raised its capital expenditures budget to P34.5 billion instead of P32 billion last year to further enhance its network coverage.

On the other hand, Globe senior vice president for corporate communications Yoly Crisanto said about 3.2 million subscribers were affected by the service disruptions.

Crisanto said 1.2 million postpaid and about two million prepaid subscribers were affected in areas visited by Pope Francis.

“This is the customer base whom we provide the text blast to in terms of messages regarding service interruptions during the time of the papal activities,” she added.

She clarified that the signal shutoff was done in clusters only and not the entire National Capital Region (NCR) as required by NTC.

Globe reiterated yesterday that subscribers participating in the events of Pope Francis would not be able to use their mobile phones as the company continues to comply with the directive of the NTC.

 

BILLION

GLOBE TELECOM INC

JAN

METRO MANILA

MILLION

PLDT

POPE

POPE FRANCIS

SMART AND SUN CELLULAR

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