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PLDT, Globe race to modernize networks to cope with mobile data traffic boom

September 11, 2012 1:58pm
With international technology consultancy firm iGN predicting global mobile data traffic to increase 16-fold between 2011 and 2016, local telecommunications companies are racing to modernize their capabilities and expand their coverage.

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) completed its two-year, P67-billion ($1.6 billion) capital expenditure program for modernizing its network ahead of schedule, the company announced Tuesday.
 
The PLDT Group’s total fiber optic cable assets—which provide rapid mobile data streams—now total 54,000 kilometers, more than four times the 12,000 kilometers of fiber network being built by its competitor.
 
The telco expanded its 4th generation technology Long-Term Evolution (LTE) sites and transport network that rides on 48,000 kilometers of fiber assets by adding 6,000 kilometers of Fiber-to-the-Home.
 
PLDT president and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno calls his company’s coverage and capacity “unrivaled.” “We are close to covering the whole of Metro Manila with the more reliable and faster fiber connection and gaining momentum in servicing the rest of the country,” he said.
 
The PLDT Group, via its cellular subsidiaries, Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, has established a 3G and LTE-enabled access network, with 3G coverage reaching majority of the population and LTE piloting in a growing number of areas, he added.
 
The developments comes after a core network upgrade boosting PLDT’s domestic fiber optic network (DFON) with 100G Technology and the completion of an international undersea cable system that more than doubled PLDT’s international bandwidth capacity.
 
PLDT announced that its mobile internet revenues registered a 97% growth year-on-year in the first half 2012.
 
“We are extremely prepared for [the] data explosion,” said Nazareno.

Competitor Globe Telecom's 12,000 kilometers of fiber assets nationwide is dwarfed by PLDT's total, but the company announced it is also ahead of schedule in its modernization initiative and expects total change-out by the first quarter of 2013.

“For the last five months we have been moving very quickly, updating and installing more than 100 sites a week since April of this year. So we are quite close to 50% done in terms of the network change-outs,” said president and CEO Ernest Cu.

According to Cu, Globe is ready for the commercial launch of its own 4G LTE this month.

Already, the company is anticipating future demand with thrice the number of 3G base stations for better call quality and pervasive coverage.
 
“We are moving progressively forward and at a faster clip. We are ahead of schedule so it’s very likely that we’ll accomplish the total change-out by the first quarter of 2013. Today, there are already marked improvement in cities that are 100 percent complete,” said Cu.
 
Cu described the company’s modernization as “different” from the traditional transformation that other networks go through.
 
“Others mask modernization with simply a business-as-usual change-out of old equipment. At Globe, our transformation is very different because it is indeed building a brand new network. This is no usual upgrade. A brand new network will be coming with capacity many years forward, state-of-the-art performance and superior capabilities,” he said. — BM, GMA News
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