PLDT hikes capex to P70B to fund 4G, 5G rollout

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    With the President’s call to improve telecom services, PLDT Inc. has revised anew its capital expenditure (capex) guideline this year for its network buildup to support the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) and fifth generation (5G) services nationwide.

    In a statement, PLDT said its capex is expected to reach P70 billion this year, higher than the P63 billion earlier revised capex, despite the slowdown in network rollout due to the quarantine controls imposed in the second quarter this year.

    This capex program enabled PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. to build the digital infrastructure needed to support the deployment first of 4G/LTE, 5G and an extensive optic fiber network to further improve mobile and broadband services in the country.

    PLDT and  Smart have invested nearly P260 billion in capex over the past five years to execute the 5G deployment plan. The strategy to deploy 5G has been embedded in Smart’s network planning over the past five years.

    With this extensive fiber network, Smart has been able to fast-track the nationwide rollout of its 4G/LTE service that when combined with its 3G service now provides high-speed mobile internet service to over 93 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities and 95 percent of the population, PLDT said.

    In its ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced rollout, Smart has been installing 5G-capable equipment which will enable it to deploy 5G easier and faster, PLDT added.

    Also, Smart launched yesterday 5G-enabled handsets as part of its gradual commercial rollout of 5G services in the country.

    In this initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers can get super-fast data service of Smart 5G in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.

    These areas include the Makati central business district (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area.

    Smart 5G is also being rolled out in key high-traffic areas such North Avenue in Quezon City, Taft Avenue in Manila, Ortigas CBD and Clark Green City in Pampanga.

    Through partnerships with device manufacturers, Smart will also launch its initial lineup of Smart 5G-certified devices from Huawei, Samsung, RealMe and Vivo which will be available with Smart Signature plans in select Smart Stores.

    “After many years of preparation and sustained investments, we’re very happy to say that Smart subscribers can now try out and enjoy the super-fast data service that Smart 5G can deliver,” said Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and chief executive officer.

    “The launch of Smart’s 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilizing the next generation of mobile technology. For our customers, it opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying video, playing esports and using more powerful digital services,” Panlilio added.

    He said the 5G rollout to more areas will complement the deployment of Smart’s 4G/LTE network which is the fastest and most extensive in the country.

    “To date, Smart 4G/LTE and 3G coverage serves 95 percent of the country’s population,” said Panlilio.

    PLDT has partnered with Cisco and Huawei to transform its IP fiber transport infrastructure into a fully automated, software-defined 5G-ready network.

    PLDT said this highly reliable and scalable infrastructure utilizing its existing fiber network will enable it to deliver next generation digital services like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things via 5G.