Filipino telecoms giant PLDT Inc. says the recent issuance of Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) orders to reduce red tape associated with securing tower permits is already helping it to increase mobile coverage across the country. Introduced in August via a Memorandum Circular to shorten permit processing times, the ARTA measures have helped PLDT and mobile arm Smart Communications to secure 211 building and preconstruction permits to deploy towers in Metro Manila; and the provinces of Batangas, Rizal, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Leyte, Samar, Southern Leyte, Camiguin, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. Additionally, the wireless unit tapped up a number of towercos last month to construct around 200 macro cell sites, it said.
Alfredo Panlilio, Smart president and CEO, and PLDT chief revenue officer, said: ‘The initiative of the government to make it easier for us to build more towers quicker will be a big help in terms of improving coverage … Towers are just one element in the mobile network infrastructure of PLDT, and we have both fixed and mobile infrastructures. We have about 10,000 macro and micro cell sites and more than 20,000 LTE base stations scattered across the country.’ Building out more towers is also deemed ‘crucial’ to the telco’s 5G deployment strategy, he added.