Singtel loses mobile market share as revenues dip

Despite gaining 36,000 mobile customers over the last year, Singtel's mobile revenue and ARPU fell.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Singtel has announced that its mobile communications operating revenue dropped from SG$6.7 billion to SG$5.93 billion over the last year, with a loss in overall Singaporean mobile market customer share.

As of March 31, Singtel's post-paid customers reached 2.39 million, up from 2.33 million, while prepaid mobile customers hit 1.75 million, down from 1.77 million.

This amounted to a total Singaporean mobile market share of 48.6 percent, down by 1.2 percentage points from last year.

Its prepaid market share was 50.5 percent, and post-paid market share 47.2 percent, down by 2.2 percentage points and 0.5 percentage points, respectively.

Prepaid average revenue per user (ARPU) stayed the same, at SG$18 per month, but post-paid ARPU dropped by SG$4 per month to SG$68.

According to Singtel, its mobile segment will improve in future thanks to the spectrum it purchased last month, which it said will "enable Singtel to further extend its network leadership and support the growth of Internet of Things and 5G initiatives".

During the general spectrum auction, Singapore's Info-communications Media Development Authority allocated 4x 10MHz in the 700MHz band, 2x 10MHz in the 900MHz band, and 3x 5MHz in the 2.5GHz band to Singtel for SG$563.7 million.

In terms of its international telco brands, despite being the fastest mobile provider in India, Airtel's pre-tax profit halved due to "intense price competition" in India, impacting Singtel's overall results.

The company's full financial results for the year ended March 31 saw a net profit of SG$3.85 billion, down from SG$3.87 billion a year earlier, on operating revenue of SG$16.71 billion, down from SG$16.96 billion.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were SG$4.998 billion, down from SG$5.013 billion, while cash and cash equivalents were SG$533.8 million as of March 31, up from SG$461.8 million this time last year.

In terms of constant currency, Singtel said its net profit was relatively stable and had ended the year "on a resilient note".

"We have turned in a strong set of results this quarter despite a challenging business environment. This performance demonstrated the strength of our core businesses and diversified operations, aided by strong cost management," Singtel CEO Chua Sock Koong said.

"Our investments in networks and spectrum, differentiated content, and innovative plans have helped us stand out from the competition and win new customers."

Consumer operating revenue was SG$9.57 billion, boosted by the increasing demand for higher-speed fibre broadband plans and its English Premier League pay TV content; enterprise operating revenue SG$6.6 billion, attributed to cybersecurity, data analytics, and cloud computing services growth and new contract wins by NCS; and Digital Life operating revenue SG$539.1 million, thanks to digital marketing company Amobee's strong performance, as well as mobile video-streaming company HOOQ's uptake.

Revenue grew across data and internet, IT, sale of equipment, digital business, and pay TV, but fell across national and international telephone.

Singtel also noted that capital expenditure for the coming year is expected to be SG$2.4 billion in total, AU$1.5 billion of which will be spent on improving Optus' Australian mobile coverage throughout Australia, attributing the investment to the government's decision not to declare wholesale domestic mobile roaming.

Optus CEO Allen Lew told ZDNet that Optus' goal in investing further in its network is to become the number one network for voice and data in Australia.

"The AU$1.5 billion primarily will go towards our mobile network, and will go towards building a significant number of new greenfields sites primarily in the regional areas," Lew told ZDNet.

"There will also be within that AU$1.5 billion a densification of our metro networks in the capital cities."

Singtel subsidiary Optus reported net profit of AU$794 million, down from AU$901 million a year earlier, on operating revenue of AU$8.43 billion, down from AU$9.12 billion -- which the telco again attributed to the regulatory decision in August 2015 to reduce the rate that mobile network operators can charge each other and fixed-line network operators for calls from 3.6 cents per minute down to 1.7 cents, and regulated SMS pricing from 7.5 cents to 0.03 cents per SMS.

Singtel in February reported quarterly net profit of SG$973 million -- up SG$19 million year on year -- for the period ended December 31, on EBITDA of SG$1.22 billion and operating revenue of SG$4.41 billion.

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