Smart Communications Inc. is investing P1 billion this year to roll out WiFi service hotspots in transport hubs, government offices and business establishments across the country.
“Over the past months, we have aggressively broadened the Smart WiFi footprint through our key partnerships with government institutions and business establishments, consequently improving internet access and coverage nationwide,” said PLDT Inc. and Smart executive vice president Eric Alberto.
Alberto, who is also the president and chief executive of ePLDT, the digital arm of PLDT, said with Smart WiFi, users could take advantage of free connectivity for an initial number of minutes, after which the service would allow them to conveniently purchase credits from Smart to extend and boost internet session.
Smart WiFi public hotspots are currently undergoing upgrades at all four terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City; Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao; Iloilo International Airport; Bacolod-Silay International Airport in Negros Occidental; and Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport in Negros Oriental.
Smart WiFi is also available for use by waiting passengers at the terminals of major bus companies including Alps, Five Star Bus, Isarog Bus, Jam Liner, Philtranco and Victory Liner.
Aside from major transport hubs, Smart also expanded the WiFi service to cover more public areas such as city halls, schools and establishments including malls, restaurants and coffee shops.
Smart Wifi is also designed as an essential tool for small and medium enterprises and institutions.
“With more people using WiFi provided by establishments they patronize, WiFi connectivity has been proven to contribute to business growth,” Alberto said.
The P1-billion budget for the roll out of WiFi service across the country was a part of PLDT’s P43-billion capital expenditure program this year.
PLDT also allocated $100 million this year to roll out new cell sites using the 700-megahertz spectrum in key cities nationwide.
Smart said it planned to activate 360 cell sites with 700 MHz this year, initially in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao as a part of a three-year program to bring faster, affordable and reliable internet to users.
PLDT, partly owned by Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd. and Japan’s NTT group, reported a net income of P6.22 billion in January to March, down by 34 percent from P9.48 billion a year ago.
Core profit, which excludes foreign exchange gains or losses and other non-recurring income, dropped 22 percent to P7.21 billion in the first quarter from P9.28 billion a year earlier.
Consolidated revenues amounted to P42.78 billion in the first quarter, slightly up from P42.55 billion in the same period last year.