PLDT-Smart says fiber, LTE rollout accelerated in first 8 months

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Telco giant PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications said they further expanded the reach and capacity of their fixed and wireless networks across the country to cater to increasing customer demand amid the pandemic.

As of August, PLDT said its fiber infrastructure now spans 382,500 kilometers, up 19% from end-2019, boosting the coverage of its fiber-powered fixed network to 8.1 million homes, up 12% from end-2019. Alongside this increase in fixed network coverage, PLDT said it has also increased its available capacity by 8% to 3.78 million ports.

Meanwhile, Smart said it has further ramped up its LTE rollout, increasing the number of LTE base stations on its network by 15% to 28,200 as of end-August. The accelerated network rollout has included the firing up of LTE sites in far-flung areas, including Pag-asa Island in Palawan and the town of Kawayan in the island province of Biliran.

Despite challenges due to Covid and the lockdowns, PLDT and Smart said they have been able to continue their nationwide network expansion program by combining the rollout of physical installations with software systems upgrades that can be done remotely.

“Our sustained investments in our network over the years have put us in a strong position to meet the surge in demand for our services amid the pandemic,” said Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice president for network planning and engineering for PLDT-Smart.

“These investments likewise lay the foundation to support increasingly bandwidth-intensive applications which are driven by technological advancements such as 5G,” Tamayo added.

Smart recently expanded its commercial 5G service nationwide after rolling out more 5G sites in Visayas and Mindanao, including key areas in Boracay, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.

First launched in July, the service was initially available to Smart Signature, Infinity, and other Smart postpaid subscribers, and is now available to Smart Prepaid subscribers who can now also enjoy Smart 5G in selected areas using Smart-certified 5G handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.

The ramped-up network rollout is part of PLDT and Smart’s sustained investments in their network, which have totaled some P260 billion from 2015 to 2019. Amid the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to P70 billion or more.

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