Telco giant PLDT Inc. is slashing its spending target this year by some P20 billion as strict quarantine measures around the country hampered its growth.

From a record P83 billion budget for 2020, the company expects to spend about P63 billion—or 13.5 percent lower than the 2019 level, chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Thursday.

Such spending will mostly go toward the upgrade and expansion of its mobile and fixed-line networks. While the enhanced community quarantine that forced people inside their homes caused internet demand to spike, the lockdown also affected the mobility of PLDT’s front-line personnel.

“As for the outlook for 2020, it’s still too early to give a prognosis of how the full year will pan out,” Pangilinan said during a virtual briefing on Thursday.Days before, rival Globe Telecom also anticipated that spending on its rollout likely fell by P2 billion in the second quarter of the year.

During the first quarter of the year, PLDT said core earnings dropped 5 percent to P6.9 billion as depreciation costs and debt payments weighed on its bottom line.

This was the result of spending that ramped up in 2019 as PLDT fought to improve data services and to regain market share from Globe.

Service revenue from January to March this year was up 8 percent to P41.8 billion, however, Pangilinan expects top-line growth to slow in the second quarter.

PLDT was buoyed by its growing internet business, which now accounts for 71 percent of total revenue. The company’s consumer business group alone saw revenue jump 20 percent to P20.2 billion. PLDT Enterprise rose 3 percent to P10.1 billion while PLDT Home went up 5 percent to P9.6 billion.

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