The country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. are heeding the government’s call to elevate the telecommunications industry and deliver world-class services.
“We support the call of the President to improve our services, and we have spent around P260 billion in the last five years investing in our infrastructure. We invested P73 billion last year and we are ending this year with approximately the same level” of capital expenditure, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart Communications president and CEO, Alfredo Panlilio, said in a press release.
“Our capex commitment next year is at a level that will be 20-25 percent higher than this year’s capex, focused on expanding our fiber footprint and our wireless coverage,” he said, adding that with the surge in demand for data, “we are prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion next year to meet the requirements of all our mobile and fixed line customers.”
Panlilio said they want to benchmark themselves, not just with local competition but with neighboring countries, like Thailand and Vietnam. “We would want our network performance to ultimately be at par with global companies. This is our aspiration, to really bring that level of service to the Filipino people.”
Since the Anti-Red Tape Authority issued its Joint Memorandum Circular in August, Smart has secured more than 1,600 wireless permits. To date, Smart has over 10,000 sites across the country, including more than 700 new cell sites fired up by the end of 2020 despite mobility restrictions and supply chain challenges due to Covid-19. These additional permits will help the company increase its LTE population coverage, cover more municipalities, and provide more capacity for dense areas.
It also said that PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country, is now at more than 422,000 kilometers. The fiber infrastructure supports Smart’s 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G networks, that cover 96 percent of the population and are present in 95 percent of cities and municipalities. As of November, Smart has also increased the number of its base stations to over 58,000, or 20 percent higher compared to end-2019. It has also rolled out additional 5G sites as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide, the press release added.*