Telcos up capex in 2021 as competition heats up


    Telecommunication companies are significantly increasing capital expenditures in 2021 as a third player comes in by March.

    Globe Telecom earlier reported it is set to spend P90 billion, while Smart Communication has allotted P92 billion in 2021.  Both investments are the highest annually for each firm for the past six years.

    Average monthly construction permits issued to telcos have considerably increased since July when the process of approval by local government units was eased.

    The number of permits issued to Globe has increased by about 600 percent per month and that to Smart rose by almost 200 percent per month.

    Third player DITO Telecommunity Inc. plans to fulfill its commitment of spending P150 billion this year for its infrastructure rollout.

    Globe said it aims to deliver first-world internet for every Filipino and that it exceeded site rollout and network upgrade targets for 2020. The telco reported deploying 1,300 new cell sites and upgrading over 10,800 sites to Fourth Generation/long-term evolution (4G/LTE) this year.  It has also deployed 708 5G sites in Metro Manila, as well as certain cities in Mindanao.

    Smart plans to benchmark itself with players in Thailand and Vietnam and eyes to elevate its network performance at par with global companies.

    PLDT’s fiber infrastructure is the most extensive in the country at more than 422,000 kilometers. This fiber infrastructure supports covers 96 percent of the population and is present in 95 percent of cities and municipalities.

    Smart has also increased the number of its base stations to over 58,000 this year, increasing the number of base stations by 20 percent compared to end 2019. It has rolled out additional 5G sites as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.

    Fiber internet company Converge is also expected to increase its capital expenditure from P19 billion to P23 billion next year as it aggressively provides pure end-to-end fiber internet connection to its market.