Globe Telecom, the second largest fixed and mobile operator in the Philippines by subscribers, has submitted its 4G rollout proposals to the industry watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), confirming its intentions to cover 95% of the nation’s municipalities and cities by end-2018. The cellco’s plan centres on how it intends to use the spectrum acquired through the co-purchase of San Miguel Corporation (SMC’s) telecoms assets, including its valuable 700MHz spectrum. Globe has laid down a timetable to roll out approximately 4,500 software defined networking (SDN)-equipped multiband, multimode base stations, as well as upgrading capacity on its existing infrastructure. By end-2016, the carrier aims to have upgraded 30% of its national network – or around 2,200 existing base transceiver stations (BTS) – to support the newly acquired spectrum while, separately, it has pledged to deploy ultra-fast (fixed) broadband in two million households by 2020, aided by investment of around USD2 billion in its fixed broadband expansion programme.
Globe’s announcement comes a week after Philippine Long Distance Telephone’s (PLDT’s) mobile division Smart Communications set out its stall to cover 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities with LTE technology by 2018, under a three-year commitment submitted to the NTC – again a core component of the joint deal it recently agreed to buy up the spectrum assets of SMC. Despite an ongoing legal review of the deal by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), which last month saw the Court of Appeals deny Globe’s petition to halt the review, Smart has pledged to accelerate the rollout, by expanding both the coverage and capacity of its LTE services in the country. By the end of this year, Smart will finish deploying 700MHz services under the co-use arrangement at no fewer than 360 cell sites in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, achieving coverage of nearly 40% of the country’s cities and municipalities in the process. Further expansion works will take place in 2017, with all 1,551 cities and municipalities expected to be served by 2018. Concurrently, PLDT is readying its network to support LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services, noting that it has set aside approximately PHP43 billion (USD915 million) in total capital spending budget for 2016.