PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have sought the help of government agencies in gaining access to more than 300 sites for installations and repairs in order to provide quality and reliable services to the public.
In a letter addressed to Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan and Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año, PLDT-Smart identified areas currently inaccessible due to COVID-19 community quarantine measures located in Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Palawan, Iloilo, Capiz, Samar, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga del Norte.
“The PLDT Group would like to respectfully appeal to the DICT and DILG to direct LGUs and other concerned sectors to enjoin their immediate cooperation in granting the PLDT Group access to its facilities within their respective areas to conduct critical works,” the companies said in the letter.
With the nationwide implementation of the different levels of community quarantine, restrictions imposed by some local government units (LGUs) have impacted the PLDT Group’s performance of critical activities such as service restoration, maintenance, installation works, capacity expansion, replacement and upgrade of critical facilities and other urgent work.
“Amid COVID-19, our services have become really essential to our countrymen. Many of our customers have been affected by the pandemic and the lockdowns, and we are here to help them get back on their feet by making sure that our quality services are always available to them,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer. “We can only do this if we can continue to broaden and improve our network infrastructure.”
Panlilio had earlier emphasized the importance of working with government in improving telco services. “The initiative of government to make it easier for us to build more towers quicker will be a big help in terms of improving coverage,” Panlilio said, following the government’s issuance of 211 building and preconstruction permits to Smart since the Anti-Red Tape Authority issued its Joint Memorandum Circular in August.
Panlilio added that towers are but one portion of PLDT-Smart’s integrated network, which also includes 360,000 kilometers of fiber infrastructure, around 10,000 macro and micro-cellsites and over 20,000 LTE base stations, in addition to data centers and partners for international capacity.
“That’s the kind of large-scale network that you would need to build in order to offer a competitive service,” he said.
The continuing nationwide network improvement program is part of PLDT and Smart’s sustained capital expenditures on their networks, with PLDT and Smart having already invested some Php260 billion from 2015 to 2019. For 2020, amid the regained momentum of the company’s network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures back up to about Php70 billion.