Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel) has revealed it is upping its capital expenditure budget for 2010 from the USD250 million announced last month, to USD350 million. The increased spend is part of Digitel’s aggressive network expansion programme to take on the might of rivals Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and Globe Telecom. Commenting on the increase, Digitel president and CEO James Go said: ‘Really, it’s the timing issue. We may programme a CAPEX of USD250 million but this could change depending on growth issue.’ Digitel invested around USD350 million in its operation in 2009, primarily to strengthen and expand the coverage of its Sun Cellular-branded cellular network. Digitel intends to deploy a further 1,400-1,600 new cell sites in 2010 to lift its total to almost 7,000. As of May 2010 the company had installed a total of 6,000 sites, it said. The Gokongwei-led company went on to say in a statement: ‘Every month, we are adding 100 cell sites. By the end of next year, the number of our cell sites will almost match that of the two other operators. We will have 8,500 to 9,000 cell sites by then … Going forward, our CAPEX may not be as aggressive. Next year, our CAPEX may not have to be as much as this year. At the start of 2012, [the amount is likely to] go down.’ Digitel will raise the 2010 investment through internal funds and from European lenders, it added.
Sun Cellular had more than 14 million cellular subscribers as of end-May, up from 10.8 million at 31 December 2009. In the broadband segment Digitel currently has between 300,000 and 400,000 subscribers. Roughly half of its 2010 CAPEX will be ploughed into improving its broadband business. As reported by Business Mirror, Sun Cellular claims it is successfully ‘eating up’ Globe’s post-paid subscriber base. It says that seven out of ten post-paid subscribers prefer the Sun Cellular brand over those provided by the other network operators, and purports to offer better value for money and quality.