StarHub records SG$341m profit after drops in mobile, pay TV

StarHub's net profit for FY16 was SG$341 million, down from SG$372 million, on revenue of SG$2.397 billion and EBITDA of SG$690 million after gains in broadband and enterprise, but drops in mobile and pay TV.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Singaporean telecommunications provider StarHub has published its financial results for 2016, revealing a drop in net profit for the year, from SG$372 million down 8 percent to SG$341 million due to decreases in revenue across its mobile and pay TV segments.

Revenue was SG$2.397 billion, down by 2 percent from the SG$2.44 billion recorded a year previously, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) was SG$690 million, down 3 percent from SG$713 million.

Service revenue remained stable, at SG$2.2 billion.

"Despite increased competition, we have registered growth in key areas," said StarHub CEO Tan Tong Hai, who added that the company's biggest segment of mobile has "showed resiliency".

"Momentum for our broadband revenue was maintained, and we also witnessed a consistent revenue growth in our enterprise fixed business," the chief executive added.

StarHub's revenue for mobile was down 2 percent year on year, from SG$1.24 million to SG$1.21 million. Average revenue per user (ARPU) remained stable for post-paid services, at SG$70 per month, while prepaid was down by SG$2 to SG$16 per month. As of the end of the year, StarHub had 2.31 million mobile customers, consisting of 1.39 million post-paid customers, up during the quarter from 1.37 million, and 920,000 prepaid customers, up from 902,000 last quarter.

The telecommunications provider also lost revenue in pay TV, down by 3.4 percent from SG$391 million to SG$377.8 million over the year. The company attributed this to a loss in customers -- which fell from 507,000 to 498,000 during the quarter. ARPU remained unchanged, at SG$51 per month.

Broadband made gains during the year, however, rising by 8.2 percent from SG$200.3 million to SG$216.8 million in revenue despite a loss of 2,000 customers over the final quarter, down to 473,000. StarHub attributed the revenue gain and higher ARPU, which rose from SG$34 to SG$37, to a greater number of customers on its fibre network as well as on higher-speed cable plans.

StarHub's enterprise fixed segment rose from SG$384.9 million last year to SG$400 million in revenue this year, due mainly to the higher uptake of data and managed services -- which rose from SG$331.1 million to SG$347.2 million -- while voice usage again dropped, bringing in revenue of SG$52.8 million, down by SG$1 million over the year.

Last quarter's net profit similarly dropped as a result of StarHub's SG$80 million spectrum payment.

"In the new year, we remain focused on our customer-centric approach to deliver innovative solutions to both our consumer and enterprise customers," Tan Tong Hai added.

Last month, StarHub revealed to ZDNet that it attained speeds of 35.15Gbps during a trial of 5G network technology with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

The field trial was conducted using 2GHz of spectrum in the e-band -- which sits between the 60GHz and 90GHz frequencies -- and using 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

"To future-proof our network, we have been trialling gigabit-speed solutions, which for instance can deliver over 30Gbps on 5G," Chong Siew Loong, head of Network Engineering at StarHub, told ZDNet in January.

Back in November, StarHub and Nokia also attained speeds of 4.3Gbps and latency of 1ms during a 5G trial over centimetre-wave (cmWave) frequency between the 3GHz and 30GHz bands using the Nokia AirScale platform.

These 5G trials followed StarHub and Nokia's demonstration of 600Mbps data transmission speeds over 4G using 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO) and carrier aggregation in May, as well as announcing a showcase of 1Gbps indoor 4G coverage in conjunction with Huawei in April, which combined 55MHz across the 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz spectrum bands.

StarHub also trialled network technology in July for the purposes of upgrading its 4G network in partnership with Nokia to triple peak upload speeds to 150Mbps using 64 QAM and aggregating spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands, with the aim of commercially launching such a 4G upgrade in Marina Bay and Orchard Road in December 2016.

Like rival provider Singtel, StarHub also enabled the embedded SIM (eSIM) to be usable across its 4G LTE-Advanced network in January, allowing customers to connect their smart wearables without needing to pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Updated at 11am AEDT, February 7: StarHub did not make losses across mobile and pay TV; it made less revenue than the previous year.

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