PLDT, Globe expand fiber investments as Converge ICT seeks market dominance

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With newly listed fiber broadband provider Converge ICT declaring it will seek to deploy the country’s largest fiber network, local telcos PLDT and Globe Telecom have disclosed significant investments to expand their own fiber infrastructure.

PLDT has announced that its fiber network has reached 395,000 kilometers as of end-September 2020, which the company said is the “most extensive and advanced digital transport network in the country”.

“Despite pandemic conditions, PLDT has relentlessly continued to expand its fiber optic network. Expansion works are ongoing to extend PLDT’s footprint by another 81,000 kilometers, 31,000 kilometers more in 2020 and 50,000 in 2021,” said PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering Mario G. Tamayo.

In addition, the company said its backbone network capacity as of end-September 2020 is at 55 terabits per second. With its ongoing works, PLDT is looking to increase this capacity further by another 37 terabits per second.

This capacity expansion, it said, aims to serve the growing demand for data and deliver technologies like 5G, LTE, and fiber-to-the-home.

Over the past five years, PLDT said its capex – most of which was poured into its network build-out – reached P260 billion. Capex was particularly high in the last two years when PLDT ploughed back 38% of its revenues in 2018 and 45% of its revenues in 2019 back into capex.

PLDT’s capex is expected to reach at least P70 billion in 2020. Its network spending will remain sizable next year as PLDT further expands its fiber network and Smart rolls out 5G.

For its part, Globe revealed it has increased its investments in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), up 189% this year compared to 2019 as the company.

For the first half of 2020 alone, Globe’s FTTH capital expenditure was already 755% higher than the same period last year while the allocation for the second half of 2020 is 64% higher than 2019.

The investments have translated to a 158% increase in broadband fiber capacity lines as of end September 2020 versus full year 2019, the Ayala-owned firm said.

As of August this year, Globe said it already increased its fiber rollouts by nearly 52% compared to full year 2019.  This covered key locations such as Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Cebu, and Davao del Sur. 

Together with the optical fiber deployment, Globe said it is moving its broadband customers to the newer and higher speed network and has migrated 40% of its targeted customers since January this year.

Globe has earmarked P50.3 billion in capital expenditures this year for network improvements.

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