PLDT set to offer mobile broadband this month

By Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror

Posted at Feb 10 2009 01:15 AM | Updated as of Feb 10 2009 09:31 AM

Telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s (PLDT) much-awaited launch of a new technology called HSPA850 [high-speed packet access] will finally be realized this month, company president Napoleon Nazareno said.

HSPA is a faster version of the current HSDPA (high-speed data packet access) standard offered through PLDT WeRoam and Smart Bro of Smart Communications Inc.

“Phase 1 will take off [in] February. The succeeding phases will follow,” said Nazareno in an interview.

HSPA850, Nazareno said, targets to reach areas that cannot be reached by the current network, digital subscriber line (DSL) and broadband wireless services of the PLDT Group. “The technology platform will initially cover Metro Manila and other nearby cities and provinces,” said Nazareno.

Phase 2, he added, will be unveiled in the third quarter of this year, while the third and last phase is set to be completed a year after. “That’s the timeline for HSPA which is a complementary platform to deliver broadband in dense areas.”

The PLDT Group earmarked an investment of about $50 million for the said HSPA technology.

Nazareno noted that HSPA 850 has been successfully installed in Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina.

The current wireless broadband services of PLDT and Smart provide about 2 megabits per second (Mbps) in data speed, while the new technology is estimated to have a peak speed of 7.2 Mbps.

For its next-generation network (NGN) project, Nazareno said the group expects to register 400,000 PLDT subscribers this year who will enjoy the latest technology for voice and multimedia communications linked through PLDT’s IP (internet protocol) backbone.

As of September last year, PLDT had over 120,000 PLDT subscribers.

“We are proceeding to migrate more subscribers this year,” said Nazareno, adding that the target for the completion of the rollout is in four years.

The shift to NGN from the traditional fixed-line service remains a top priority of the phone company. It is seen to revitalize the landline business, where revenue has softened compared with the mobile phone business.

The trend nowadays, PLDT said, is no longer the provision of basic telephone service since voice service has long been overtaken by cellular services. The deep penetration of cellular services has moved past from being a complement to basic landline services into being the total substitute for voice services.

PLDT is nearing completion of Phase 1 of its P4 billion-NGN project. “PLDT has made available in almost all of the approved areas and particularly in Phase 1 facilities for nomadic landline telephone facilities or wireless local loop, the same being operational and available to serve the requirement of the residents and users of the service therein,” PLDT said.

PLDT was authorized by the NTC in August last year to install and operate NGN in 195 municipalities and cities covering regions 4 to 12, the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Caraga, and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Based on the feasibility study submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission, PLDT projects revenues from the project to reach P781.76 million over a five-year period.