Telcos upgrade networks as internet demand surges


    The country’s two incumbent telecom operators are further ramping up their network expansion to address the growing demand for broadband internet services.

    PLDT Inc. and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. are looking to further expand and modernize their transport network, which is key in delivering fifth generation (5G), Long Term Evolution (LTE) and fiber-to-the-home services.

    This multi-year digital transformation journey began in 2017, PLDT said, and last February it inaugurated a nationwide, completely SDN-based, optic and IP network.

    Joachim Horn, PLDT chief technology and information advisor, said the transformed transport network enabled PLDT and Smart to respond to increased customer demand for data, especially at the start of the lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “With this transformation, we were able to cope with the requirements – 25 percent more traffic within the first week (of lockdown),” Horn said, adding that PLDT had to upgrade its transport network internationally, double its capacity, add 3-4 terabits per second in its IP backbone as well as upgrade most of its nodes.

    He said the transformed transport network also puts PLDT in a good position to deploy future 5G services, such as network slicing.

    “Our launching last July of 5G became much easier because this network is already in place. And for all the new features that 5G will be bringing, particularly when it comes to network slicing – we are very well-prepared. Our transport network will be able to cope with all that,” Horn said.

    Globe Telecom Inc. is also undertaking massive upgrades to its network infrastructure in various locations all over the country in response to the growing demand for connectivity and capacity as more customers use the internet for online education and work from home requirements.

    However, Globe’s mobile subscribers have to migrate to 4G/LTE to experience the benefits of its modernization efforts to improve further their connectivity and data experience.

    “These efforts, however, will not be felt if our customers will not make the effort to move away from 3G technology to 4G/LTE. If they are still using the old devices and old SIM cards, our customers are depriving themselves of the convenience, speed and efficiency of 4G LTE,” KD Dizon, Globe vice president for mobile business, said.

    By using 4G/LTE, customers can download content (music, video, games), web pages, stream video and music within seconds, and free of buffering. Customers can make the most of their smartphones by either downloading full length high definition movies in a matter of seconds or a few minutes.

    Globe has upgraded over 7,700 cell sites this year. It said the modernization efforts are being done at record pace despite the challenges of travel restrictions and quarantine protocols due to the pandemic.

    Globe added its efforts to increase its 4G capacity have resulted in successful upgrades in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan and Cavite.

    Site upgrades are also underway in Pampanga, Batangas, Laguna, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Davao City, Iloilo City, Bacolod City and Boracay.