PLDT-Smart ramps up 5G investments in 2021 to improve customer experience

Integrated telecommunications company PLDT Inc. (PLDT) is looking to hike investments in 5G to further improve customer experience and deliver cutting-edge services in 2021.

This investment includes the expansion of its fiber network, which is now at 395,000 kilometers nationwide as of end-September. This fiber network supports the full suite of services from PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. (Smart), such as fiber-to-the-home, LTE, and 5G.

“As we complete the build-out of our 4G network so that our coverage will be as close as possible to 100%, we are building out our 5G network as well,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT chair and CEO. “5G will bring speed and capacity, not only to the individual users on the wireless platform but also to the home.”

According to the telco company, Smart LTE now covers 95% of the population.

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PLDT, Smart expand, upgrade networks across the country amid lockdowns

Pangilinan emphasized the importance of providing connectivity to the home, with the pandemic forcing people to spend more time at home for work, study, and entertainment.

“In about a year or two, the ability to deliver fixed wireless services to the home will increase significantly,” he said.

For Smart president and CEO and PLDT chief revenue officer Alfredo Panlilio, 5G will further improve the mobile data experience, particularly for video.

“The major driver for business today is data. 72% of our revenues now is on data,” Panlilio said. “From a video consumption point of view, I think it will make the experience much better.”

Panlilio said that the company will be delivering more content through its different platforms to drive usage among its customers.

“As an integrated telco, we are able to offer a full suite of services to our customers–from mobile internet to pocket WiFi, to fixed wireless, to fiber. We believe that 5G will improve mobile internet capacity and experience, and we are also developing a lot of use cases. PLDT Enterprise will be driving some of those,” he said.

These initiatives form a large part of the PLDT Group’s sustained investments in their network, which totaled some P260 billion during the period of 2015-2019. With its network rollout regaining momentum following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT said it has leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to P70 billion or more.

These investments likewise lay the foundation to support increasingly bandwidth-intensive applications that are driven by technological advancements, including 5G, cloud services, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence.

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