KT earnings remained flat in 2020 from mixed impact of pandemic

The telco saw digital and media services grow, but demand for traditional services declined in 2020.

KT has on Tuesday announced recording 23.9 trillion won in sales and 1.18 trillion won in operating income for the entire year of 2020.

Sales declined 1.7% from a year ago while operating income grew 2.1%.

The telco said its areas of growth were digital and media services for 2020, similar to its compatriots SK Telecom and LG Uplus. The company's IPTV business saw sales increase by 7.7% from 2019, while its content business, which offers music streaming and online advertisement, grew 9.6%.

Its enterprise data business also grew by 11.8% year-on-year. KT said it saw strong demand for data centre and cloud services from companies throughout the year. Its latest data centre in Yongsan district in Seoul, which opened in November, had a preregistration rate of 70%, the telco said.

In addition, sales from KT's main mobile business was more or less flat, only increasing by 1.3% year-on-year. The telco said it saw sales from roaming services drop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was offset by growth to its 5G subscriber base. As of the end of 2020, the telco had 3.61 million 5G subscribers.

Where KT's earnings were negatively affected by the pandemic was its traditional businesses. Its fixed-line phone service saw sales drop by 7.3% from the previous year. Meanwhile, KT's credit card arm BC Card and real estate business also saw their revenues drop by 4.2% and 25%, respectively, during the same time period. This was attributed to the pandemic weakening consumer spending during the year, the telco said.

For 2021, KT said it would continue to focus on digital transformation services, such as big data and cloud for new growth.

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