TELCO giant PLDT on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, disclosed it will discontinue its 3G network services in 2023.

In a press briefing, PLDT chief finance officer Anabelle Chua said the telco is planning to “sunset” its 3G network as less than five percent of the devices in the market use 3G and only four percent of subscribers are using 3G.

“There is an opportunity to optimize our network with the shutdown of 3G eventually,” she said.

PLDT Network head Mario Tamayo said the company is “looking at next year to completely shut down our 3G network because as mentioned... we want to optimize our network and use of frequencies for other technologies.”

Tamayo said most of the traffic now is on LTE.

While the market is ready for the shutdown of 3G, PLDT and Smart president Alfredo Panlilio said the challenge now is how to encourage even 2G subscribers to jump to 4G.

He said PLDT, Smart and Maya are working together to come up with affordable access to technology as well as on devices for users to switch to upgraded networks.

PLDT’s core income, excluding the impact of asset sales and Voyager Innovations, reached P17 billion in the first half of 2022, up 12 percent or P1.8 billion from the same period last year.

It grew its consolidated service revenues (net of interconnection costs) by five percent or P4.4 billion to an all-time high of P94.3 billion in the first half of 2022. In the second quarter of 2022, consolidated service revenues grew by six percent to P47.9 billion.

On track

Panlilio said PLDT is on track to meet its 2022 targets. Service revenues are expected to post a mid-single digit growth.

“Home broadband will lead this growth, with Enterprise also expected to register stronger performance, underpinned by the information and communication technology. And although wireless faces tough market conditions, it should benefit from the continued opening up of the economy,” he said.

PLDT’s continuous investment in expanding its network to reach more Filipinos and improve overall customer experience brought its total first half capital expenditure (capex) spending to P46 billion out of the P85 billion capex guidance for the year.

This includes investments in capacity to support the Home broadband business and the rise in network traffic, the construction of the 11th data center targeting hyperscalers, the international cabling systems Jupiter and Apricot, and the impact of the sale and leaseback of towers and build out of additional towers by tower companies.

“We expect stronger headwinds in the second half, with higher inflation impacting our customers’ pockets as well as our own operating costs. With so much pressure on growth, it is imperative that we stay focused on our strategic initiatives and managing costs. As to full year profit guidance, we maintain telco core income at P33 billion, albeit some upside may be possible as portions of proceeds from the towers sale are used to pay down debts in the second half,” said PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan.