Globe Telecom says it has hit its target of deploying 500 LTE sites using the 700-MHz band, and is generally on schedule with its base station rollout plan, but it would be further ahead of schedule if not for the laborious process of getting permits for site access.
The majority of the 700-MHz LTE sites were deployed in Metro Manila and other highly-populated areas, where the majority of customers using LTE-based handsets are located.
Globe began the deployment of 700-MHz LTE sites in June this year following a partial acquisition of San Miguel’s telecommunication assets, which also included spectrum resources in the 1800-MHz, 2300-MHz, and 2600-MHz bands.
Aside from deploying the new 700-MHz sites, Globe also activated 900 additional LTE sites for the 2600-MHz band. Joel Agustin, senior vice president for program governance at Globe’s Network Technical Group, said these sites mostly benefitted customers in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, adding that the company is also working on further improving indoor signal and capacity in major cities in the country.
Agustin said the company is well on its way of achieving its target of deploying about 4,500 multiband, multimode software-defined radio station equipment to about 95% of cities and municipalities in the country within a three-year period, as pledged to the National Telecommunications Commission.
“With the deployment of 500 LTE 700 sites, Globe is now able to deliver more comprehensive LTE coverage in Metro Manila, substantially improving the mobile internet experience of our customers in the region,” Agustin said.
In a bid to harness the benefits of the its new spectrum assets, Globe set aside an additional network investment of $300 million in October this year, bringing the company’s total capital expenditure for 2016 to $1 billion. According to Agustin, Globe plans to deploy more LTE sites in 2017 to further accelerate its network build and enable the company to stay ahead of growing consumer demands.
However, Globe said its aggressive bid to expand its telecommunication infrastructure is being hampered by circuitous permit processes for things such as cell sites. For instance, Globe says it has a backlog of 3,000 sites due to difficulties in securing permits from various local government units, homeowner associations and other government agencies.
As a result, the Philippines only has about 21,000 total cell sites compared about 55,000 in Vietnam, Globe said.