PLDT, Smart deploy country’s first carbon fiber towers on urban rooftops

PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are beefing up their network rollout by deploying cutting-edge carbon fiber cell site towers.

Notable for being over 10x lighter than steel towers, IsoTruss carbon fiber towers are expected to be light enough for installation on buildings, and compliant with the National Building Code. Being lightweight, carbon fiber towers are also easier to transport and install, are made of non-corrosive materials, and require almost no maintenance. As such, they are ideal to be deployed on rooftops and coastal sites. On top of this, carbon fiber towers also reduce PLDT and Smart’s impact on the environment, contributing less carbon dioxide and occupying less land area, translating to more efficient land use.

“The deployment of carbon fiber towers will support our LTE and 5G rollout, especially in metro areas where the demand for LTE network expansion and new 5G rollouts require lighter tower solutions that can carry equipment to serve at full capacity,” said Mario G. Tamayo, SVP and Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart.

Smart recently unveiled its first fully installed carbon fiber tower in Quezon City.

“Not only would these towers help rollout our network faster and more efficiently, these also reduce our companies’ environmental impact, as the manufacturing process emits up to 70 percent less carbon dioxide, compared with steel of comparable strength,” said Meinardo Opiana, Head of Transport Network & Support Facilities Planning & Engineering at Smart.

“These towers also help our network become more disaster-resilient. Their non-corrosive nature, coupled with their ability to withstand strong winds, makes them ideal for coastal municipalities, where strong typhoons are now more common because of climate change. Their lightweight material, on the other hand, reduces the potential hazards of structural overload for rooftop towers that are already burdened by huge antennas and new tech rollout,” Opiana added.

This carbon fiber tower rollout is part of PLDT and Smart’s nationwide network expansion program. To date, Smart’s mobile network covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. 

Underpinning this mobile network is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the country’s most extensive at more than 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021