Smart to build 2,000 cell sites next year

Smart Communications, Inc., the wireless subsidiary of PLDT, Inc., said it targets to put up 2,000 new cell sites next year to support its network expansion.

In a statement Friday, the telco operator said it is ramping up its tower build-out to reach areas that have been affected by the recent typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

It will be building new cell sites in Metro Manila, Albay, Aurora, Batangas, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Masbate, Quezon, Rizal and Sorsogon.

“Our accelerated network expansion efforts will help us reach even the unserved and underserved areas in the country,” PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio said in the statement.

The company has already obtained nearly 1,500 permits to build its pipeline of cell sites across the identified areas. Other places covered are Abra, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Aklan, Antique, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Lanao Del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte.

Smart said it has also engaged six tower companies to build an initial 180 to 200 common towers. These will be shared with other telco operators, in line with the common tower policy of the government.

The PLDT Group has allocated P432 billion in capital investments from 2011 through September this year, which has expanded the reach of Smart’s mobile networks to 96% of the Philippine population. Capital expenditures for 2020 are expected to reach P70 billion by yearend.

In the first three quarters of the year, PLDT generated an attributable net income of P19.69 billion, 23% higher than last year. PLDT shares at the stock exchange added P7 or 0.51% to P1,377 each on Friday.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez

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