PLDT ready to fight as competition heats up

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    With anticipated stiff competition this year, PLDT Inc. wireless unit Smart Communication Inc. is ready to aggressively compete by offering better services to further increase its customer base.

    “Obviously, Globe (Telecom) is not sleeping. We’re also aggressive to make sure we do better than them. Yes, we need to worry about the new telco coming in. We just have to focus on what we need to do. We need to make customers happy, give them better services. That’s the only way you can compete,” Al Panlilio Smart president told reporters in a recent interview.

    Sought for a reaction on third telco DITO Telecommunity Corp.’s committed minimum internet speed of 27 megabits per second during the latter’s first year operation this year, Panlilio said, “we have to be preemptive. We have to be ready.”

    “ … It’s not easy building a network. We spent 25 years building our network nationwide. If (DITO) can do it faster, it’s good for them. But obviously, we’re not going sit on that, and we want to make sure our customers are happy with our service. At the end of the day, it’s not just the speed … it’s the actual experience. That’s more critical point. If they are there, we will be ready,” Panlilio said.

    For this year, PLDT ‘s capital expenditure is expected to be higher than last year’s P78.4 billion.

    This will be used to fund the telco’s continuous network expansion to improve internet speed and coverage of both wireless and fixed networks.

    PLDT attained a key goal in late 2019:  not only was its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data service the fastest in the country, it was also the most widely available.

    The latest assessment of Smart’s LTE service came from the report of international mobile analytics firm Opensignal covering the period Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2019 said Smart customers were getting superior 4G availability in both rural and urban areas.

    The report also said Smart continued to deliver much faster LTE download speeds in both rural and urban areas as well.

    In Opensignal reports in the past two years, Smart had consistently delivered a better download experience but had trailed behind the competition in terms of availability.  That deficit had been progressively diminishing as Smart stepped up its LTE and 3G roll out.
    Smart has overtaken the competitor in terms of availability, PLDT said.

    By addressing the rising demand for video viewing and e-games, the data traffic of Smart’s network has soared.

    By the third quarter of 2019, the mobile internet traffic of Smart, TNT and Sun customers reached 1.1 exabytes (1106 petaybytes), twice as large as the volume recorded in the same period last year.   Internet traffic in the third quarter alone grew 20 percent versus the previous quarter.

    Despite this, Smart has managed to maintain the quality of its data service while expanding its availability. This level of performance has been consistently cited by independent third party surveys.

    Opensignal’s Philippines Mobile Network Experience Report released in September found that Smart provides the country’s Best Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience.

    Meanwhile, Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis, also found that PLDT and Smart delivered the country’s fastest fixed and mobile data speeds for the first half of 2019, as they continued to widen their respective leads over their competitors.

    Smart said it achieved this performance by sustaining its network roll out efforts.  As of the third quarter 2019, it has increased the number of LTE base stations by  34 percent compared to end-2018 and deploying these in more areas of the country.  Smart’s goal is to equip all of its cell sites with LTE, which offers the best mobile data service.

    PLDT’s fiber infrastructure grew by 26 percent versus end-2018 to more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide which is is a critical advantage for Smart.

    The PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditures program that includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks.