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PLDT up to task in PBBM call for universal connectivity

PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan (seated, 2nd from left) underscores the role of PLDT in the Marcos Administration’s call for universal connectivity. Joining him are (L-R) Cathy Yap-Yang, head of PLDT-Smart Corporate Communications Group; Senior Vice President Annabelle Chua; President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio; and Orlando B. Vea, Voyager and PayMaya co-founder and CEO and Maya Bank co-founder. (Screen Capture by Noel G. Tulabut)

Top executives of the country’s largest integrated telco company have assured an active role in the call of the government for universal connectivity poised during the recent State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Disclosing a P94.3-billion all-time high service revenues for first half of 2022, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said that his company remains committed to improving connectivity in the entire country.

“I think we are particularly aligned to the suggestion of the President in respect to broadening our connectivity network in this country,” Pangilinan said in reply to the question of this writer during the media briefing on earnings for the first six months of 2022.

He also said that there will be no let-up in investments of PLDT despite challenges in covering the entire archipelago.

“It is manifested by continued elevated levels of our CAPEX. We are prepared to answer for the best appreciation in order to maintain our CAPEX program,” Pangilinan said.

PLDT’s CAPEX reached P518 billion in the last 10 years. For this year alone, it is set to spend P85 billion that covers rollout of 1.7 million fiber ports of 950,000 have been “built out” from January to June 2022.

“Across the board, investments are being made on the fixed side of our business and on the mobile side of our business as well,” he added.

“I guess the challenge would be in (asking) are we capable of covering the entire country. Probably difficult if we talk about fiber network, the current technology, and the pricing of that technology is probably not commercially feasible at this time. So, we do have to look at other solutions. Some, probably not so expensive. Some, expensive especially if it it’s the satellite kind of connectivity,” he furthered.

Pangilinan also called on the government to continue to assist telcos under the public and private sector partnership.

“We will do our best in order to achieve the kind of goal the president wants us to achieve. That would require some inputs, some help from government particularly in terms of licensing, maybe in terms of helping for telcos to achieve connectivity to the far flung areas of the country, particularly to help in education in the most rural areas of the country,”

For his part, PLDT and Smart President and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said that he and Pangilinan just met with President Marcos a few days ago in a private sector advisory council that tackled telecommunications.

He said that telcos can tap on existing government facilities in order to expand connectivity reach to more remote areas.

“As private sector, we suggested to use technology to reach as many Filipinos as we can and we can use schools and barangay centers as a community WiFi to reach more students. As MVP said, we cannot leave any student and no learning left behind. And that’s the only way we could expand that,” he said in the briefing.

He added that 11 initiatives with action plans were tackled in “engaging discussions” and that President Marcos “was open to what he can do to hasten a lot of these initiatives.”

PLDT disclosed that for the first half of 2022, it has posted 12 percent growth in telco core earnings at P17 billion (15.2 YAGO), 79 percent growth in data revenues covering wireless, home, corporate and ICT versus YAGO levels.

Additional fiber ports reached 1.92 million, bringing the total to 6.72 million.