KT Q1 profits fall 4.7% due to COVID-19

Roaming and smartphone earnings were negatively affected by COVID-19, but the telco saw growth in 5G and content.

South Korean telco KT saw an operating profit of 383 billion won and revenues of 5.83 trillion won in the first quarter of 2020, the company said on Wednesday.

Profits decreased 4.7% from a year prior, while revenue stayed level.

KT said it saw sales from roaming and smartphones decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also saw 5G subscription numbers continue to increase during the quarter and saw growth in content -- especially in its internet protocol TV (IPTV) service.

As of the first quarter, the telco had accrued 1.78 million 5G subscribers, it said, backed by its new price plans and free content.

KT also saw a 12% increase in sales from a year ago in its IPTV business, while subscriptions to its TV service grew 5.7% during the first quarter, it said.

The Korean carrier also saw enterprise revenue rise 8.2% from the year prior to 675 billion won from demand for digital transformation services in public and financial sectors.

Demand for artificial intelligence applications in service industries, such as its robots for hotels, were especially high, the company said.

KT said it will continue to seek new applications for 5G, especially in the enterprise space, and accelerate digital transformation of all its services in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

South Korean telcos saw mixed results due to the COVID-19 pandemic for their first quarter earnings, but all saw 5G subscriptions grow.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus combined are planning to invest 4 trillion won within the first half of the year in 5G infrastructure. They are also planning to deploy 5G standalone networks within the year.

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