PLDT, Inc. has said it is ready to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion this year to meet the requirements of its customers. — BW FILE PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

PLDT, Inc. is planning to produce more “innovative solutions” this year, as it expects that consumers would keep their digital lifestyle even after the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

“There definitely will be an outpour of innovative solutions that support flexible working conditions across different industry shapes and sizes,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer, told BusinessWorld in an e-mailed reply to questions on Jan. 14.

He added: “Telco will come up with the best product portfolio that will champion mobility and other digital services.”

Mr. Panlilio, who also serves as president and chief executive officer of Smart Communications, Inc., believes that even when the coronavirus vaccine finally allows for increased face-to-face interaction, consumers will still prefer the online lifestyle through e-commerce, e-gaming, e-learning, virtual entertainment, e-sports, and e-health.

Such digital services have proven their “convenience and efficiency” versus how things were done over a year ago, he noted.

“Our recovery from this pandemic will not spell a return to the old normal. The change in behavior is already there and the final state will be both an online and offline modality, where online solutions will be more critical than offline. Internally, we are gearing up for a full hybrid way of working after seeing better operational efficiencies brought about by telecommuting and digitization,” Mr. Panlilio explained.

PLDT and Smart have started focusing on cost-efficiency and customer-centricity.

The pandemic has given PLDT and Smart an “urgent reason to review and rationalize” their costs and initiatives, he said. “It also has allowed us to work closely together as one PLDT-Smart.”

Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco, senior research analyst at Philstocks Financial, Inc., said the vaccine rollout would mean short-term losses for the home broadband segment.

“First and foremost, classes could go back to the face-to-face format. So that’s the thing that you have to consider,” he said in a phone interview on Jan. 6.

PLDT’s fixed-line home broadband revenues for the first nine month of 2020 grew 14.06% to P23.93 billion from P20.98 billion in 2019.

The telco saw its mobile service revenues for the January to September period of 2020 hit P71.79 billion, 10.54% higher than the previous year’s P64.94 billion.

The company’s attributable net income grew 23.1% to P19.68 billion during the nine-month period.

“But then again, with what happened because of the pandemic, some of the changes it has brought could remain permanent. I mean, because of what happened, people have started appreciating what is being done through the digital space such as e-retailing, business transactions being done online, and e-payments. These could be kept moving forward. These could keep the vibrance in data demand and help the telco sector,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.