MANILA - PLDT-Smart said Tuesday it is rolling out an additional 2,000 cell sites next year, and laying down underground fiber optic cables in the Bicol region and in Samar province, as part of its efforts to improve telco services.
The Manny Pangilinan-led telco also said that as of November, it has also increased the number of its LTE and 3G base stations to over 58,000, while also rolling out an additional 313 5G base stations as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.
PLDT released the statement after Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told telcos to submit a report on their new towers, saying there seemed to be "no improvement yet" on the service of PLDT and Globe Telecom.
Roque said he wanted the telcos to commit when their services will improve.
President Rodrigo Duterte months earlier warned the country’s two main telcos to improve their services by December or risk "closure" or "expropriation."
PLDT meanwhile said that it has secured over 1,600 permits to build more cell sites since August when the Anti-Red Tape Authority ordered that telco tower permits be expedited.
"The PLDT-Smart network expansion went full throttle this year, in response to the surge of demand for connectivity and data. It was not easy, but we managed to set all systems in motion to enable us to expand the reach and capacity of our fixed and wireless networks across the country amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic," said Alfredo Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO, and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.
PLDT said the new telco towers will be built in Metro Manila and in typhoon-impacted provinces like Albay, Aurora, Batangas, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Masbate, Quezon, Rizal, and Sorsogon.
The company also said independent reviews of its mobile and fixed internet networks noted improvements to its services.
“According to independent mobile analytics firm Opensignal's latest Mobile Network Experience Report on the Philippines, Smart leads in mobile network experience, particularly in terms of 4G Availability, 4G Coverage Experience, Video Experience and Download and Upload Speeds,” the company said.
“Earlier reports released this year by Opensignal also noted "impressive improvements" in mobile network experience in the Philippines since 2017 as Filipinos spent more time on 4G/LTE,” it added.
The company said it is laying down fiber optic cables in the Bicol region and Samar to make telco services in these areas more resilient. PLDT has already more than 422,000 kilometers of fiber infrastructure as of November, it added.
PLDT said it expects to spend at least P70 billion for 2020 to expand and upgrade its networks.
Both PLDT and Globe have been ramping up spending to upgrade their infrastructure in anticipation of the entry of China-backed third telco DITO Telecommunity next year.