PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc (Smart) are enhancing their fixed and wireless services in Catanduanes to ensure superior customer experience for subscribers in the island province.
Smart has beefed up its 4G/LTE services and started deploying new generation Smart 5G technology in Virac, following the firing up of PLDT's fiber optic link in the province. Smart's LTE expansion and roll out of additional Multi-Element on Wheels (MEOW) facilities likewise improved Smart's coverage in the area and further strengthened Smart's market leadership in Catanduanes.
"These innovations are indeed a great contribution to our progress, especially during this period, when Internet access is now a basic necessity for many Catandunganons from all walks of life," said Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua.
This initiative is part of PLDT's broader effort to connect island provinces to the rest of the country via inter-island submarine and inland cable systems, which also enable Smart's mobile networks.
In addition to expanding the reach of PLDT's domestic fiber and Smart's LTE and 5G coverage to more areas, this network initiative also enhances resiliency of PLDT and Smart's network through the addition of alternate fiber routes to ensure better customer experience in the event of calamities and multiple fiber breaks.
"We will continue to invest and build out our network to support the needs of our customers in all areas, despite the inherent challenges of rolling out across an archipelago and connecting islands like Catanduanes," said Mario G. Tamayo, Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart. "In fact, following this development, our customers in Catanduanes have experienced around three to four times faster speeds using appropriate devices," he added.
PLDT's fiber infrastructure, the country's most extensive at 429,000 kilometers as of end-2020, also supports Smart's mobile networks, the country's fastest mobile network, according to third-party analytics firm Ookla. Smart's mobile network covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Sulu and offers the most extensive 4G coverage nationwide.
These initiatives form a large part of PLDT's capital expenditures, which totaled P460.7 billion in the last ten years. To address the growing data needs of their fixed and wireless customers, PLDT and Smart are prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion in capital expenditures in 2021