PLDT to invests US$80M in cable system, hopes to draw global ‘hyper-scalers’ in PH

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CEBU CITY – The country’s fully integrated telecommunications company PLDT is set to invest US$80 million or P3.9 Billion in the APRICOT cable system with four other parties that have formed a consortium targeted to be fully operational in 2024.

According to PLDT and Smart Communications President and CEO Alfredo Panlilio that the with the company’s participation in the construction of the newest international undersea cable system APRICOT, this will boost the telco’s network infrastructure capability for global communications supporting ICT services.

“The construction of this APRICOT cable system is vital to the Philippine economy with rapidly increasing data traffic and is aligned with our efforts to make the country a strategic data center hub in the region and hoping to draw in global “hyper-scalers” to expand business in the region,” Panlilio stated.

He explained that the new cable system features state-of-the-art facilities featuring 400G transmission technology and multiple pairs of high-capacity optical fibers.  It also features state-of-the-art submersible reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) employing wavelength selective switch (WSS) for a grid-less and flexible bandwidth configuration, based on Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) design.

These features ensure that massive amounts of data traffic will be facilitated, creating exceptional service quality to end users, Panlilio added that the system can further augment PLDT’s international capacity for data traffic, particularly to the US and across Asia and the Pacific, the 12,000-kilometer long cable system will have design capacity of more than 190Tbps connecting the Philippines to Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Guam.

“APRICOT assures our international and enterprise customers with sustained capacity availability and more resiliency options in support of their growing demand for data and continuing digital transformation,” according to ePLDT President and CEO and SVP and Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez.

Hernandez said that this also enhances how the Philippines connect to the rest of the world, a big plus for global hyper-scalers who are looking at the Philippines for their cloud region expansion.

The APRICOT cable project will further serve PLDT Group’s fixed and wireless subscribers on the consumer level, and its large enterprise client base which are already connected by its extensive fiber footprint, which spans more than 524,000 kilometers as of end-June 2021.

PLDT VP and International Facilities Investments Management Head Gene Sanchez also bared that APRICOT is key to enhancing network resilience because new cable landing stations in Luzon and Mindanao will be built as part of this submarine cable system.

Sanchez explained that with the cable to be routed via the eastern coast of the Philippines, it will also increase the submarine cable route diversity in the Asia-Pacific region.  PLDT with its global partners have worked to design APRICOT using state-of-the-art, upgradeable technology.

The APRICOT Cable project is the third international cable network system announced by the PLDT Group in the last two years, which when completed would bring PLDT’s participation in 18 international cable systems, Sanchez added.

Other PLDT infra/tech investments

Earlier, PLDT announced its US$136.7 million investment in the Jupiter Cable project, and in the 9,400-kilometer Asia Direct Cable system set to be completed by end 2021 and early 2023, respectively.

These investments in international cables add resiliency and capacity to PLDT’s network and boost the country’s strategic position as a premium data and cable hub in the region for global hyper-scalers. The PLDT Group’s current participation in multiple international cable systems strongly links the country to all parts of the world, Sanchez revealed.

Currently, PLDT has extensive participation in 14 international submarine cable systems and one terrestrial system carrying data traffic going in and out of the Philippines.  These include the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), Asia-submarine Cable Express, APCN2, and South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 which are routed through PLDT’s three existing cable landing stations situated in Batangas, Daet, and La Union.

PLDT has been relentlessly expanding its fiber network in and out of the country. In addition to P460 billion invested from 2011 to 2020, PLDT is eyeing additional capex spend of P88 to P92 billion in 2021, aiding the country’s efforts in nation-building through digital services and technology.

These investments further strengthen the country’s most extensive fiber network, enabling connectivity to industries, businesses, homes, individual consumers, and the nation’s growing digital economy.