PLDT to increase 2019 capex

By Aerol John Pateña

December 3, 2018, 1:46 pm

MANILA -- Local telecommunications giant PLDT Inc. is set to increase its capital expenditures next year for the deployment of its wireless services and rollout of 5th generation technology (5G) cell sites across the country.

The capex for 2019 will be higher than the PHP58 billion this year which will be discussed during the company’s board meeting set for Tuesday, according to PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

“We're just focusing on our numbers. Capex elevated; higher again next year,” Pangilinan said in an interview with reporters last week.

“Wireless is still a significant portion, especially now that we’re going to spend. So, we’re expanding some 3G, a lot of 4G sites and then beginning to build out the 5G,” he added.

The PLDT chief projects the telco’s performance to further strengthen for next year due to the growth on its wireless services as well as its Home and Enterprise business segments.

“I think the wireless looks… the numbers are good. Definitely Home, the numbers are very good. Enterprise is also good,” Pangilinan said.

PLDT earlier said that its Home and Enterprise subscribers will be the first to avail of 5G services next year. The company acknowledged that no 5G-capable mobile handheld device is available in the market yet as it pursues efforts to install Wi-Fi connectivity across the country.

PLDT expects mobile devices that can connect to 5G cell sites and provide Wi-Fi connectivity to be available by the second half of 2019.

Meanwhile, PLDT’s fiber broadband coverage for the first nine months of 2018 reached 5.75 million homes, surpassing its full year target of 5.3 million homes due to the expansion of its fiber optic cable network. Its total capacity reached 2.25 million ports, which is more than its target of 2.20 million ports for 2018.

Its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications has installed 5,700 new LTE or 4G base stations, which raised its total to 14,400 LTE base stations nationwide.

The increase on PLDT’s capex next year comes as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has declared Mislatel Consortium consisting of Udenna Corporation and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corporation as well as Chinese state-owned firm China Telecom as the third major telco player in the country last November 19.

The consortium has 90 days to submit related documents including: congressional approval of its franchise; registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission; approval of the Philippine Competition Commission of its bidding agreement implementation; posting of the performance security bond and its rollout plan for the entire commitment period for the processing of its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by the NTC.

Mislatel has committed to provide Internet speeds of 55Mbps covering 84 percent of the population with around PHP250 billion capex over a five-year period. The consortium stands to lose its performance bond of PHP24 billion or 10 percent of its capex if it would fail to make good on its commitments. (PNA)