PLDT accelerates sunsetting of 3G network, signs deals with satellite firms: officials

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2022 05:27 PM


MANILA - PLDT Inc and Smart Communication are accelerating the "sunsetting" or termination of the telco's 3G technology to maximize network assets, officials said Thursday.

"We have already called for the earlier sunsetting of the 3G technology. But we even accelerated it this year because really, when you look at it, less than 5 percent of devices are using 3G and its declining every month," PLDT Chief Financial Office Annabelle Chua told reporters in a hybrid financial briefing. 

"There is an opportunity to optimize our network with the shutdown of 3G eventually," she said.

The jump from 3G to 4G is a "short hop," PLDT and Smart president and CEO Al Panlilio told reporters.

2G and 3G technologies use older network connectivity and can be availed using lower-end handsets. 

"It’s a short hop to 4G. Taking the jump to 4G is easier," Panlilio said.

PLDT said it is eyeing the complete shutdown of its 3G network as early as 2023. It is evaluating the revenue impact of the migration, it added. 

Panlilio said the migration of 2G to 4G is a bigger issue. 

But PLDT and its other units such as Maya are working together to "deliver solutions" such as providing access to affordable handsets, to help 2G and 3G users upgrade to 4G or even 5G, he said. 

Unlike PLDT and Globe, third telco DITO Telecommunity does not offer 2G or 3G network. 

 SATELLITE SYSTEMS 

When it comes to satellite technology, Panlilio said they have been in talks with low-orbit satellite operators including Starlink. 

PLDT said it signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with three satellite operators, but Starlink is not yet included.

"We’re talking to Starlink also in terms of putting their systems on our fiber optic backbone but other satellite provider also," Panlilio said. 

But he said using satellite service would depend on “commerciality” due to the costs.

PLDT Chairman Manny Pangilinan said having satellite technology is "good for everybody" because it fosters competition, although it is not similar to fiber that delivers point-to-point connectivity. 

Starlink earlier said it was eyeing the rollout of its services in the fourth quarter. But consumers need to spend $599 (P33,349) for the router and disk kit, and $100 (P5,567) in monthly subscription fee. 

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