PLDT-Smart speeds up tower rollout nationwide

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PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) further accelerates its nationwide tower rollout, following the issuance of 34 building permits as part of the government’s efforts to help improve the quality and coverage of telecommunications services in the Philippines.

This brings to 211 the total number of building and preconstruction permits issued by the government to Smart since the Anti-Red Tape Authority issued its Joint Memorandum Circular in August.

These permits cover towers to be built in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Batangas, Rizal, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Leyte, Samar, Southern Leyte, Camiguin, Davao Del Norte, Davao Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, among others.

“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,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, in a recent interview with BusinessWorld Live on One News.

Panlilio said that Smart typically builds around 1,000 to 1,500 towers annually and emphasized that while building more towers is key to improving coverage, these are just one part of PLDT’s network infrastructure.

“Towers are just one element in the mobile network infrastructure of PLDT, and we have both fixed and mobile infrastructures. We have about 10,000 macro and micro-cellsites and more than 20,000 LTE base stations scattered across the country. Aside from towers, we need an extensive fiber optic network and we currently have at least 360,000 kilometers of fiber optic network. We also have 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.

Panlilio said that building more towers will also be crucial to the company’s 5G rollout, as the technology would require additional facilities.

The ramped-up nationwide tower rollout 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.

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