• PLDT to focus 2016 capex on upgrading its network

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    TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) is allotting a big chunk of its 2016 capital expenditures (capex) for network upgrades and expansion.

    PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the company had more or less set its spending at P43 billion, around the same range as this year’s capex.

    “[Capex for next year is] more or less the same level as 2015, so it is in the area of P43 billion next year,” he told reporters in a chance interview.

    Pangilinan noted the amount was a headline number and that the company did not expect to completely deplete the allotment.

    “The P43 billion is the headline number. I mean if you think about it will be physically impossible to spend a billion dollars in one year – it will be a percentage of the headline number,” he said.

    The company will officially announce its final capex for 2016 when it releases its 2015 results in the first quarter of 2016.

    A significant fraction of the 2016 capex, Pangilinan said, will be spent on the telco’s network.

    “Around P38 billion will be for the network,” he replied when asked about upgrade plans.

    In term of funding, Pangilinan said he wasn’t keen on borrowing money. “I hope not,” he replied when asked about it.

    “There will some carry over in the succeeding years,” he added.

    PLDT’s investment arm, PLDT Capital, was said to have used up less than half of its $50-million capex.

    PLDT Capital was created to connect the PLDT Group of Companies with top operators in Silicon Valley. It has entered into partnerships with Phunware, a US-based next-gen mobile customer engagement solutions provider and fan app producer Hopscotch.

    PLDT is the largest telecommunications and digital services provider in the duopolistic domestic telco industry. With the anticipated arrival of a new competitive player, Pangilinan has said he expects “tougher times” ahead.

    The telco’s plans are focused on reinforcing its network and beefing up its data services under a more competitive environment, he said.

    “I think the focus in terms of spend is really the capex on the network, because really that’s what we need . . . the whole world is changing to data,” Pangilinan said. MARIA LAURA ANGELES

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