StarHub mobile revenue continues to be smashed by COVID

Mobile revenue down by almost 30% as overall revenue falls by 14.5% compared to the third quarter of 2019.

Singaporean telco StarHub has continued to find its mobile revenue stuck in the doldrums, which was pushed lower by 29.4% to SG$134 million for the third quarter to the end of September.

This result was on the back of average revenue per user (AVPU) collapsing from SG$39 for the same time last year to SG$29 this time around. StarHub said the pandemic was to blame for the lack of travellers into the island city-state meaning less roaming revenue, as well as lower excess data charges and value-added service uptake.

On the other hand, the telco said it increased its number of postpaid subscribers from 1.442 million to 1.454 million.

For prepaid, ARPU fell by a dollar to SG$12, while the number of subscribers dropped from 785,000 to 526,000.

Overall for StarHub, revenue dropped 14.5% to just shy of SG$490 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 16% to SG$143 million, and net profit was down by almost a quarter to SG$44.5 million.

Across its nine-month totals, the figures were not much better, with revenue down 15.8%, EBITDA down by 14.7%, and net profit down by 19.6%.

Across its other consumer business units, pay TV saw its revenue drop from SG$56 million to SG$47 million due to pandemic impacts on advertising and its subscriber base continuing to shift to Singapore's NBN, and broadband saw ARPU increase by SG$3 to SG$30 while revenue lifted from SG$43 million to SG$45.5 million.

For enterprise, revenue was up 11% compared to last year to SG$162 million with cybersecurity more than making up for drops from its network solutions businesses.

The telco said it planned to launch a 3.5GHz standalone (SA) 5G network in the next quarter, alongside fellow Singaporean telco M1, which will be operated under the Antina banner.

"The group has completed the 5G base station sites identification with site preparation and installation well underway," StarHub said. "In addition, the implementation of the 5G SA core network and transmission network to serve the new 5G base stations are also in progress."

StarHub added it was the first telco to launch 5G service in the lion city.

"During the quarter, we continue to record a decline in operating expenses as we seek to run our businesses in a more cost-efficient manner," CFO Dennis Chia said.

"We are also pleased to report that Ensign group and Strateq have contributed SG$3 million in operating profits this quarter as we continue to navigate the current challenging climate while seeking long-term growth opportunities."

The telco started a digital transformation program this quarter which it said would be the backbone of its digital strategy, "rightsource" its IT, and see it adopt more agile delivery models.

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