PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) welcome the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s newly issued Department Order No. 29 (DO 29), which allows telecommunications companies to occupy a portion of the government Right of Way.
DO 29’s issuance will help speed up the rollout and assist in ensuring the timely maintenance of PLDT’s fiber infrastructure as well as Smart’s cell sites. The DO amends previous DO 73, s. 2014 and DO 26, s. 2011, and is in support of the objectives of Bayanihan 2.
“PLDT and Smart are committed to working with the government in ensuring continuous service and a great experience for our customers as we keep them safe and connected amid the pandemic,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.
For good customer experience
“This collaboration with the government is part of PLDT and Smart’s initiatives to improve the maintenance and operations of our network facilities and advocate for the improvement of the regulatory environment to boost the country’s digital infrastructure,” said Smart VP and Head of Regulatory Affairs Atty. Roy D. Ibay.
“We thank the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for espousing the interest of the telcos and paving the way for the issuance of DO 29,” said Atty Aileen Regio, First Vice President and Head of PLDT’s Regulatory and Strategic Affairs.
Under the DO 29, the ICT Service providers are finally allowed to “construct and undertake excavations and/or restoration work for ICT Infrastructure Projects within the allowable ROW limits of the national roads, as determined by the concerned District Engineering Office and subject to the guidelines provided in this Order.”
Noting that DO 29 will cease after the lapse of 3 years from March 23, 2021, Regio said that the PLDT and Smart Regulatory Group will continue to work with the government on this issue. “We will be relentless in securing government issuances that will provide a more permanent solution to this Right of Way issue,” she said.
Since ARTA’s issuance last year of the Joint Memorandum Circular fast-tracking the issuance of permits, PLDT and Smart have secured around 13,000 fixed and wireless permits.
As of end 2020, Smart has rolled out more than 10,000 sites and over 59,000 base stations, as its mobile networks cover 96% of the population from Batanes to Sulu. Meanwhile, PLDT has expanded its fiber footprint to over 429,000 kilometers—the most extensive in the country.
These initiatives form a major part of PLDT’s capital expenditures, which totaled ₱460.7 billion in the last 10 years. To address the growing data needs of their fixed and wireless customers, PLDT and Smart are prepared to invest between ₱88 billion and ₱92 billion in capital expenditures in 2021.