Amid mounting complaints about slow internet service in the Philippines, the country’s two major telecom companies, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom, said they are investing heavily in network expansion and technology upgrades to provide better and faster service to their customers.
This comes after a lawmaker urged telecommunication companies to look into ways on how to improve the country’s poor internet connection which is crucial to economic growth.
“Today’s consumers are actually embracing technology much faster than ever before. And because of that, Globe has invested so much in making technology more accessible and at prices that are affordable to the majority of consumers,” Yolly Crisanto, head of Corporate Communications at Globe Telecom, said in a text message to The Manila Times.
“A lot of innovation on product offers, including boosters and plans based on internet speeds, are readily available for consumers to choose from depending on how they use internet services,” Crisanto said.
“That said, it is important to do a thorough study on how we compare with peer nations and other developed countries to have a deeper understanding of the state of internet services in the country,” she added.
The company said that as of the third quarter of 2013, its network modernization was on track, and that the change-out of all its legacy access radios to state-of-the-art software defined radios (SDRs) has been completed.
The company also completed its submarine fiber connection to Coron Island in May 2013, complementing its existing submarine fiber optic links to Boracay and Palawan.
Globe said that more than 9,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable have been added to Globe’s existing fiber optic cable infrastructure as the company continues to expand its optical and all-IP transport network nationwide.
Globe also continues to enhance its service quality with continuing optimization and capacity upgrade of its modern network.
In relation to its IT transformation efforts, Phase 1, which involves the migration of postpaid mobile subscribers to the new business support system, is currently under stabilization management.
Globe said the ongoing stabilization efforts have resulted in marked improvements in system performance, enhancing customer experience.
Phase 2, which covers the migration of prepaid mobile subscribers, is advancing gains in terms of development and testing.
The Ayala-led company is spending $700 million to finance its network modernization program.
A lawmaker earlier called on telecom companies to explain why the country’s internet service was slow but expensive.
Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship, is seeking an inquiry to find out if consumers are getting their money’s worth from the telecommunications companies.
The senator cited reports saying that the Philippines had the lowest average internet speed in Southeast Asia.
Based on Asean data, the Philippines’ internet speed (3.6 megabytes per second) lags behind Laos (4.0 mbps), Indonesia (4.1 mbps), Myanmar and Brunei (4.9 mbps), Malaysia (5.5 mbps) and Cambodia (5.7mbps).
Vietnam has a speed of 13.1 mbps and Thailand, 17.7 mbps. These are the only two other Southeast Asian nations joining Singapore (61 mbps) that have Internet speeds above the Asean average of 12.4 mbps.
The senator wants to know why some neighboring countries in Southeast Asia enjoy faster Internet speeds at a much cheaper price.
Globe said it was open to such a probe. “Hopefully, this will put to rest several myths about pricing and speed and at the same time bring out the underlying issues particular to the Philippines, such as IP peering that impact costs of services,” Globe Telecom’s Crisanto said.
In the past year, PLDT has also invested significantly in technology upgrades to bring high-speed wireless broadband services to Filipino homes.
Last year it spent approximately P2 billion of its P28.8 billion capital expenditure for 2013 to bring Time-Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology to customers’ homes.
PLDT Technology Group head Rolando Peña said PLDT has built TD-LTE sites from Cagayan Province in Northern Luzon to Davao del Sur in Mindanao to complement efforts to bring broadband to the entire archipelago via fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and Next Generation Network (NGN) services.
TD-LTE is one of the two wireless data transmission technologies that fall under the international standard of LTE, the other being Frequency-Division Duplex (LTE FDD) which is used by mobile networks.
“We are using LTE-FDD for our mobile networks and TD-LTE for fixed wireless broadband services, running on separate frequency bands. This ensures sufficient capacity for our fixed and mobile high-speed broadband services,” Peña said.
“This will surely transform the Filipino family’s internet experience by giving them ready access to multimedia services like social media, movies, games, and music,” he added.
According to industry data, the Philippines’ TD-LTE network is one of the largest deployments in Asia Pacific with over 200 base stations and an allocated bandwidth of 100 megabits per second (Mbps).
Peña said that PLDT is building more TD-LTE sites this year to reach the most remote areas of the country. “We are committed to bring internet access to each city and municipality in the country. TD-LTE will help us achieve that objective.”
Peña also said that the TD-LTE service is only one of a range of broadband services that the PLDT Group offers to cater to the various needs of its customers.
“With maximum speeds per individual user of up to 42 Mbps, the ultra-fast TD-LTE is almost six times faster than WiMax and 21 times speedier than Canopy, and can serve more customers than both,” he said.
PLDT has also expanded its fiber optic footprint to 78,000 kilometers, which is far ahead of competition.
The aggressive fiber expansion in the last three years allowed the PLDT Group to reach more areas and adopt new technologies that would provide its customers better experience.
“We are studying the reports that have been cited as basis for saying that internet services here are slow so we can give a more accurate and balanced picture of the situation, “ Ramon Isberto, spokesperson of PLDT and Smart, said in a text message to The Manila Times.
“But we certainly support Sen. Bam Aquino’s desire to further improve internet services in the country,” he added.