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Smart to roll out 2,000 new cell sites in 2021

TO further improve coverage and connectivity, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), wireless arm of the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT, is rolling out an additional 2,000 cell sites next year.

Since the Anti-Red Tape Authority issued its Joint Memorandum Circular in August, Smart has secured close to 1,500 permits to build more cell sites and accelerate the telco’s goal to improve customer experience across the country.

“Our accelerated network expansion efforts will help us reach even the unserved and underserved areas in the country,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart Communications President and CEO.

These permits cover towers to 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, which were in the path of recent strong typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

The permits also include the Luzon provinces of Abra, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Zambales; Visayas provinces of Aklan, Antique, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar and Southern Leyte; and Mindanao provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Cotabato (North Cotabato), Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Lanao Del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Norte.

Smart has also tapped six tower companies to build the initial batch of 180 to 200 common towers, pursuant to the government’s common tower policy.

This accelerated tower rollout is part of PLDT-Smart’s continuous expansion of their fixed and wireless networks. To date, PLDT’s fiber infrastructure now spans 395,000 kilometers nationwide. This also supports Smart’s mobile networks, which covers 96% of the Philippine population.

As of end-September 2020, 46% of cities/municipalities have PLDT Home broadband presence, in both fiber and copper. Total homes passed increased by 14% to 8.3 million, while total capacity also increased by 9% to 3.8 million ports. PLDT also has ongoing plans of adding 500,000 fiber ports.

The PLDT Group’s investments in capital expenditures have totaled Php 432 billion from 2011 to September 2020. PLDT’s expansion efforts and investments helped the Group cope with sustained growth in data traffic when COVID-19 community quarantines commenced in March. PLDT is anticipating capex of at least P70 billion for 2020. PR

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