Paradoxically, heavy capital investment in telecom networks often is considered to be a negative in financial markets, even if such investment results in higher consumer welfare and an arguably better long-term strategic position.

So it is mildly surprising to hear Globe Telecom touting aggressive spending to improve services in the Philippines. Some might argue that is the only way Globe, and others, can prosper, long term.

Still, it is somewhat uncharacteristic to hear Globe touting a boost in its capital-to-revenue ratio up to 28 percent in 2015, after climbing to 27 percent in 2014.  Those levels lead local telecom industry averages of 23 percent in 2015 and 2014.

Much depends on where each nation is in its infrastructure cycle. The capex-to-revenue ratio in China was 36 percent in 2015 and 33 percent in 2014, as China is in a major building mode. Eventually China’s ratios will decline. 

In 2015 and 2014 capex-to-revenue ratios in Singapore were 26 percent and 22 percent, respectively; in Indonesia with 24 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Thailand’s ratio was 23 percent in 2015 and 21 percent in 2014. India had a 2015 ratio of 17 percent and a 2014 ratio of 16 percent. Taiwan’s 2015 ration was 14 percent and 16 percent in 2014.

Hong Kong had a 13 percent 2015 ratio and 14 percent 2014 ratio. Malaysia had 13 percent ration in 2015 and a 12 percent ratio in 2014.