PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have reiterated their support for the government's overall thrust of connecting Filipinos and enabling the country to rapidly adapt to the new normal through digital transformation.
In a virtual forum hosted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) entitled "The Future of the ICT Industry in the Country", PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio reaffirmed the companies’ steadfast commitment in achieving a future of digitally-empowered Filipinos
"As the only fully-integrated telco in the Philippines, we remain committed to realizing our vision for PLDT and Smart as truly customer-centric - with leading-edge technology - empowering all Filipinos in building a stronger nation, providing world-class connectivity as a human right, asserting the Philippines as a key player in the global arena and actively embarking on sustainable development to secure everyone’s future," Panlilio said.
Working toward excellence in operational efficiency, digital innovation, and world-class customer experience, Panlilio reiterated the companies' "laser-focus" on the customer as their North Star.
Tripled fiber footprint, quadrupled LTE base stations vs 2017, 4,000+ 5G sites
"Between 2017 and today, we have tripled our fiber footprint, more than doubled the number of homes passed and quadrupled the number of our ports. We have almost quadrupled the number of LTE base stations we have deployed across the country. All these have been underpinned by a Php460.8 billion capital investment in the last ten years, further stretching to anywhere between Php88 billion to Php92 billion this year," Panlilio added.
To date, PLDT operates the country's most extensive fiber infrastructure, at more than 511,000 kilometers. This also supports Smart's mobile networks, which now cover 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Smart's 5G network--the country's first, fastest and nationwidest--now has more than 4,000 sites across the Philippines.
"We will continue to roll out more 5G sites in the years to come so that more Filipinos will enjoy 5G coverage," Panlilio said, adding that PLDT and Smart are also continuously rolling out carrier-grade WiFi to more public areas such as city halls, public markets, schools, and hospitals, as well as providing satellite services to the country's remotest areas to connect even more Filipinos.
Accelerated digital transformation for PH
DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II in his keynote speech underscored the impact of the pandemic on the country's accelerated digital transformation.
"With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, new needs have emerged, needs that are massively dependent on maximizing the use of ICT to thrive in the new normal. To this, the DICT has stepped up its efforts to continue serving the people and meeting the demands of the people during the health crisis," Honasan said.
Honasan also highlighted DICT's "Connect, Harness, Innovate and Protect" or CHIP Framework in steering the DICT's programs and initiatives geared toward accelerating digital transformation through improving internet connectivity and access, empowering Filipinos through digital education, skills training, automating, and digitizing both government and business sectors, and strengthening the country's cybersecurity.
In the same forum, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica also announced the signing of the Revised Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, s. 2021, which aims to further streamline the permitting process for the faster rollout of telco facilities. As of June 2021, PLDT and Smart have secured around 22,000 fixed and wireless permits since the government fast-tracked approvals for telco firms last year.
Discussing the DICT's five-year digital connectivity plan, DICT Usec. Emmanuel Rey Caintic also emphasized the government and the industry's role in ensuring that every Filipino can participate and thrive in the digital economy.
"With the government's vision in building and expanding the National Digital Infrastructure, we will be able to fully utilize the digital technologies available to us and be able to effectively and actively participate in the digital economy," he said.
Sustainable, safe, and inclusive future
In addition to network improvements and customer-centric initiatives, Panlilio also discussed PLDT and Smart's efforts toward ensuring a better future for all.
"As a telco, not only do we enable lives by keeping people connected, we also help in securing a safe and inclusive future for everyone through our sustainability and CSR programs - reviving communities, enabling education, keeping our children safe online and offline, and caring for the environment," he said, mentioning programs in place that allow both companies to transition to safe, sustainable and environment-friendly connectivity solutions, such as the light-weight carbon fiber towers deployed on urban rooftops; educational programs that allow access to technology, connectivity, content, and disaster-resilient learning methodologies even for schools in remote areas without electricity; an active stance against cybercrime resulting to a child safeguarding policy; and “Buy Local” initiatives that support local farming communities and help small-scale farmers.
"We are leveraging on our relationship with Meralco for energy efficiency projects such as chiller upgrades in the PLDT facilities, use of e-vehicles to complement our fleet and energy conservation programs for ePLDT’s data center which is a heavy user of power. We constantly take action in the area of Sustainability to empower Filipinos towards a brighter future," Panlilio said.