PLDT Inc. is expanding its domestic fiber optic network (DFON) across the country, adding more than 500 kilometers of submarine fiber cable links in Palawan and bolstering efforts to bridge the digital divide by making its services more accessible and facilitating digital inclusion, particularly for underserved communities.

The new submarine cables will strengthen PLDT’s existing fiber backbone and make its network in Palawan more reliable by giving data traffic an alternative route and making sure customers can connect, according to the company Wednesday.

Eric Santiago, PLDT’s network head, said that this shows that they are committed to connecting more Filipinos by continuing to build up their fiber infrastructure all over the country.

“The milestone demonstrates our enduring commitment to connect more Filipinos with the continued expansion of our fiber infrastructure nationwide despite the inherent challenges of rolling out our network across an archipelago,” he said.

Present during the ceremonies were LGU representatives led by Arvin Gabayan, barangay captain of Sibaltan, and leaders of indigenous peoples communities in the barangay led by Maharani Apo Remedios Cabral; PLDT and Smart representatives led by Arnold Gabrinao, VisMin Head of PLDT Fiber Engineering; Erlan Gambalan, Head, Bis, Core and Transport Network Project; Christian Philip Remigio, Head of PLDT FOC Project Management; James Gregorio, Head of Consumer Business Fulfillment Sector; Ken Alvarez, Head, GMM South/West Home Sales; Victor Dizon, Senior Relationship Manager, PLDT Enterprise; and FiberHome representatives led by Lisa Li.

“With reinforced fiber links in El Nido and the rest of Palawan, we are able to boost the province’s tourism programs as travel returns and the economy reopens in the post-pandemic next normal,” Santiago added.

PLDT said the most recent development is also anticipated to improve PLDT’s capacity to provide customers, families, and businesses in El Nido and the rest of Palawan with quick and dependable fiber-powered services.

Additionally, this will enable Smart to upgrade its local mobile services, particularly for LTE and 5G.

Leaders from PLDT, its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), FiberHome, and representatives from the local government were present at a cable landing ceremony held at Brgy Sibaltan in El Nido, Palawan, to mark the occasion.

Present during the ceremonies were LGU representatives led by Arvin Gabayan, barangay captain of Sibaltan, and leaders of indigenous peoples communities in the barangay led by Maharani Apo Remedios Cabral; PLDT and Smart representatives led by Arnold Gabrinao, VisMin Head of PLDT Fiber Engineering; Erlan Gambalan, Head, Bis, Core and Transport Network Project; Christian Philip Remigio, Head of PLDT FOC Project Management; James Gregorio, Head of Consumer Business Fulfillment Sector; Ken Alvarez, Head, GMM South/West Home Sales; Victor Dizon, Senior Relationship Manager, PLDT Enterprise; and FiberHome representatives led by Lisa Li.

Apo Remedios Cabral, the leader of the indigenous peoples in the area, is hopeful that with the additional fiber cable links, their barangay will have better connections.

“With improved internet here in our barangay, we will be able to do live selling and promote our handicrafts to a larger market outside of our tribes,” she Cabral said.

The newest cable landing in Barangay Sibaltan connects El Nido to Salvacion in Roxas, which is in the northern part of Palawan. This is the most recent cable link to be put in the province in the past few months, according to PLDT.

The other segments connect Brgy. New Agutaya in San Vicente to Brgy. Napsan in Puerto Princesa and Brgy. Teneguiban in El Nido.

Recent submarine cable landings in the Bantayan and Camotes Islands in the Visayas, as well as in Siargao, Socorro, Dinagat, and Dipolog in Mindanao earlier this year, are also part of PLDT’s ongoing nationwide fiber infrastructure expansion.

“This milestone demonstrates our enduring commitment to connect more Filipinos with the continued expansion of our fiber infrastructure nationwide despite the inherent challenges of rolling out our network across an archipelago,” said Santiago.

“With reinforced fiber links in El Nido and the rest of Palawan, we are able to boost the province’s tourism programs as travel returns and the economy reopens in the post-pandemic next normal,” he added.

PLDT operates the country’s most extensive fiber infrastructure, which was at 837,900 kilometers as of end-June 2022.

This fiber infrastructure also supports Smart’s mobile network, which provides 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G to customers from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.

PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.