PLDT continues expanding optic fiber infrastructure

Given the rapid increase in telecommunications traffic, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) will continue to spend about 20 to 25 percent of its capital expenditures on its fiber optic technologies.

Rolando Peña, PLDT’s and Smart Communications Inc.’s technology group head said Tuesday that the telco would use the monies for the laying down of more fiber optic cables.

It has already spent, to date, about P40 billion in this effort. This comes to about 54,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables, the backbone of its high-speed data transmission, laid for its network all over the Philippines.

Peña also touted that PLDT's Domestic Fiber Optic Network (DFON) has the largest long-haul capacity in the country at 4.6 terabytes per second.

He explained that fiber optic technology enables the fixed line network to transmit voice, data, and video over the internet at much higher bandwidths, faster speeds, and with better quality.

“This enables us to offer advanced multi-media communications services not only through our fixed line network through fiber-to-the-home services but also through our mobile network using services like Long Term Evolution or LTE,” he added.

Peña said PLDT is “fibering” its network from end-to-end.

“We are bringing fiber up to the home and enterprises as well as to the cell sites for a richer broadband experience of our customers across all business segments. The closer the fiber, the bigger the available bandwidth,” he said.

Global Access International Network

Also part of super-charging PLDT’s fixed line network is the expansion of its Global Access International Network (GAIN) that runs on 12 international cable systems and supported by four landing stations.

“PLDT is the only carrier that has a direct and secure fiber connection to the US where more than 90% of our internet traffic goes amid the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo in the country,” Peña said.

These fiber transmission networks are needed to handle the fast-growing data traffic both here and overseas that is expected to be four times larger by 2016 compared to 2011 based on a study conducted by Cisco.

Another study conducted by Mary Meeker showed that internet usage in the Philippines grew 44% faster in 2011 than it did the previous year, the highest among the top 10 countries with the fastest growth in internet use.

According to the study, the Philippines added 28 million internet users from 2008 to 2011 bringing total internet users at end-2011 to 34 million.

Meanwhile, Smart announced that it has completed linking its Metro Manila cell sites via fiber optic cable as part of its Fiber in the Loop (FITL) project.

"With 100 percent of our Metro Manila network now fibered, Smart can further improve its range of wireless services and technologies such as LTE, HSPA+, 3G, and even 2G,” Pena said.

Unlike traditional copper wiring and microwave radios which transmit data through electric and radio signals, fiber optics uses pulses of light beamed through thin wires of glass.

This ‘optical’ technology allows for efficient, high speed transmission of data even over long distances.

The PLDT group is the Philippines’ pioneer in fiber optic technology. In the 1980s, it became first telco to introduce and deploy fiber optic cables (FOCs). Smart embarked on active fiberization initiatives through FITL projects which began in 2005.

Following suit

Earlier this year, Ayala-owned telco Globe Telecom started rolling out fiber-optic cables, implementing its Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, intended to serve the needs of high-speed data transmission to mobile phones and other data terminals.

In an earlier report, Globe Telecom President Ernest Cu said that its rival network is "merely upgrading" and not modernizing its infrastructure.

"At Globe, our transformation is very different because it is indeed building a brand new network," Cu said.

Cu added that, with Globe's complete replacement of infrastructure, it has "future-proofed the network for better call quality and pervasive coverage. — Shai Panela/DVM, GMA News