Backbone bloated? PLDT’s new fiber data questioned as it reports 2X more installations than Globe, Converge, Dito combined during pandemic

Not a few eyebrows were raised when PLDT reported during a Malacanang briefing that it added 100,000 kilometers of fiber optics for its broadband backbone in 2020.

This is more than twice the combined installations of Converge (19,200), Dito (13,152 kilometers), and Globe (12,500 kilometers) during the same period.

A Babbler pointed out that if you take PLDT’s numbers as fact, the means the Salim-Gokongwei combine would have would installed a broadband backbone that is 2,800 times the 3,517-kilometer an Philippine Highway from Ilocos to Zamboanga. The Babbler said the optimum distance of the backbone for the Philippines is just 30,000 kilometers or eight to nine times the length of the country’s longest road.

The Babbler said a more realistic measure of fiber installations should only include the actual backbone and the access networks going to cities and towns, including redundancy paths (ring connection of tat least eight times) to ensure seamless delivery of broadband services.

In reporting their broadband backbone, telcos should only count the actual distance laid down and not include the individual fiber count – or the last drop to end-users.

This means that if a telco lays down 1,000 kilometers of backbone with 96 fiber counts, it should only declare a 1,000-kilometer backbone and not 96,000 kilometers.

The Babbler said it was possible that PLDT had a different way of counting its fiber backbone when it included the fiber drop or connection to its hundreds of thousands of customers still on copper wire.

The Babbler said the National Telecommunications Commission should set the standard to give the public a more accurate picture of the fiber installations and stop some telcos from giving false impression of a massive rollout even in the middle of a pandemic.

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