GLOBE TELECOM, Inc. is expecting consumers to depend on mobile data again after vaccinations, its top official said.

“The availability of a vaccine that will allow things to go back to the way they were would mean that people will be out again and depend on mobile data as they did prior to the pandemic,” Globe President Ernest L. Cu told BusinessWorld in a recent e-mail interview.

He noted that Globe saw an increase in mobile data use after the government started easing community quarantine restrictions.

“As the lockdowns eased, we saw people starting to go out of their homes — increased activity in malls, businesses re-opening, and workforce slowly returning to offices, even just on voluntary or few-days-a-week basis,” he explained.

“So, even as people discovered the convenience and higher efficiency in some cases of doing things online (e.g., digital banking, using self-service mobile apps, etc.), people also obviously missed in-store experience, dining out, working in the office, and the like,” he added.

Globe saw its mobile business revenue as of September 2020 decline 6.39% to P77.31 billion from P82.59 billion generated in the same period in 2019. Nine-month revenue from its home broadband business grew 21.63% to P19.55 billion from P16.07 billion.

Globe has set a capital expenditure (capex) budget of P70 billion for 2021, higher than last year’s revised capex guidance of P50 billion.

“Expect more aggressive rollouts of new cell sites and fiber to homes, using the most advanced technologies available, such as 5G, to deliver improved services and better data experience to our customers,” Mr. Cu said.

He noted that the availability of 5G and enhanced 4G will pave the way for the development of additional digital services in fintech, e-health, and e-commerce, among other things.

As for the challenges that Globe expects to continue to face this year, he said: “Like other businesses, closures and limited movement affected our sales and service delivery, and safety measures put in place incurred and continue to incur additional costs on our operations.”

“All of these will have a domino effect on our economy, and we have yet to feel the full economic impact of the pandemic, just like with other countries,” he noted.

“Hopefully, the vaccine’s availability, and with all countries working on inoculating their citizenry, will have a sweeping effect. Economic recovery will take time, though, and we expect that it will not be an easy climb back to pre-pandemic levels. But, when you hit rock bottom, there’s no way to go but up,” he added.

Globe targets to put up 2,000 cell towers this year. It built 1,300 new cell sites last year.

The company recently reported an attributable net income of P15.87 billion for the first nine months of 2020, down 10.25% from a year earlier.

Globe Telecom shares closed 3.62% lower at P1,941 apiece on Friday. — Arjay L. Balinbin