PLDT Inc. said Thursday it raised its 2020 capital spending budget to P70 billion to roll out “super-fast” 5G services in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
The country’s largest telco said the planned capital expenditures would be higher than the P60-billion level that it announced in May.
PLDT said the 5G mobile phone network of Smart Communications would go live as a commercial service starting July 30.
The company’s announcement of higher capex and 5G service came after President Rodrgio Duterte threatened to shut down PLDT and Globe Telecom Inc. if they would not improve their services by December this year.
PLDT said the initial launch of 5G service on July 30 was a part of step-by-step rollout for the new network.
It said under the initial phase of commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers would enjoy the super-fast data service in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.
These areas include Makati central business district, Bonifacio Global City, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area. Smart 5G is also being rolled out in key high-traffic areas such North Ave. in Quezon City, Taft Ave. in Manila, Ortigas CBD and Clark Green City in Pampanga.
“After many years of preparation and sustained investments, we’re very happy to say that Smart subscribers can now try out and enjoy the super-fast data service that Smart 5G can deliver,” PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and chief executive Alfredo Panlilio said.
“As we rollout 5G in more areas of the country, this will complement the deployment of our 4G/LTE network which is already the fastest and most extensive in the country. To date, Smart 4G/LTE and 3G coverage serves 95 percent of the country’s population,” he said.
PLDT invested nearly P260 billion in overall capital expenditures over the past five years to execute the 5G development plan. In 2019, the PLDT Group’s capex reached a record P72.9 billion.
PLDT teamed up with Cisco and Huawei to transform its IP fiber transport infrastructure into a fully-automated, software-defined 5G-ready network.
The highly-reliable, highly-scalable infrastructure utilizing PLDT’s existing fiber network will enable PLDT to deliver next-generation digital services like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things via 5G.
With the extensive fiber network, Smart was able to fast-track the nationwide roll-out of its 4G/LTE service that when combined with its 3G service now provides high-speed mobile internet service to over 93 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities and 95 percent of the population.
Smart has been installing 5G-capable equipment to deploy 5G easier and faster.