Around 13,000 permits secured to date
PLDTand its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have reiterated their commitment to help build the Philippines’ digital infrastructure to ensure the country’s success in a post-pandemic world.
In “Building Digital Infrastructure for a Digital Philippines”, a virtual town hall hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute, Smart VP and Head of Regulatory Affairs Atty. Roy D. Ibay said that PLDT and Smart’s continuous investments in its fixed and wireless networks, alongside the government’s efforts to streamline the permitting process, will contribute greatly toward creating a digitized and competitive country.
“The current digital infrastructure in the Philippines is not enough to realize fast and affordable internet in the country, and one of the major issues is the regulatory constraints faced by the telcos,” said Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic.
Caintic added that the government has been implementing progressive regulations and policies that are focused on easing regulatory burdens.
Ibay highlighted that since the issuance last year of the Joint Memorandum Circular fast-tracking the issuance of permits, PLDT and Smart have secured around 13,000 fixed and wireless permits.
As of end 2020, Smart has rolled out more than 10,000 sites and over 59,000 base stations, as its mobile networks cover 96% of the population. Meanwhile, PLDT has expanded its fiber footprint to over 429,000 kilometers–the most extensive in the country.
However, Ibay said problems persist in the form of unjust and excessive regulatory fees imposed by some local government units and homeowners’ associations, as well as unnecessary permit applications at the barangay, municipal and city level.
“We hope that our government will continue to provide a healthy telecom regulatory environment that will encourage investment just as it incentivizes competition. This will certainly lead to a digital infrastructure revolution,” Ibay said.
PLDT’s sustained network investments totaled some Php286.3 billion from 2016 to 2020. PLDT and Smart are prepared to invest between Php 88 billion and Php 92 billion in capital expenditures in 2021 to meet the growing data demands of their customers.