Smart completes Metro Manila upgrades

NTC commitment also achieved

PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has finished its latest round of network upgrades in Metro Manila.

Smart, TNT and Sun customers in the cities of Marikina, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, Valenzuela, Makati, Manila, Taguig, Paranaque and Pasay can use the enhanced Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced networks now in place to watch their favorite shows and videos on-the-go, as well as for online shopping, and accessing other online services via their smartphones.

To date, Smart has also already fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access within three years from the grant of the use of frequencies by the NTC in 2016.

“These network enhancement and expansion activities are part of our commitment to provide world-class connectivity to the country’s primary urban hub and the rest of the nation,” said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for network planning and engineering for PLDT and Smart.

An ongoing round of Metro Manila network expansion efforts currently cover southern Metro Manila cities of Las Pinas and Muntinlupa.

More 3CC sites now up

Smart is accelerating its deployment of LTE, LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation across Metro Manila and the rest of the country as part of Smart’s efforts to improve mobile data experience nationwide.

Carrier aggregation (CA) is a feature of LTE-A which enables the combination of two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver much faster data speeds to mobile phone users. 2-Component Carrier (2CC) carrier aggregation features the combination of two frequencies, while 3CC involves three frequencies and 4CC, four bands.

Amid this ramped-up LTE-A rollout, the number of sites with 3CC increased by 26% from end-2017. All of Metro Manila’s cities already have at least 3CC.

Meanwhile, in Metro Manila’s largest metropolis Quezon City, home to 3 million people and hundreds of business establishments, Smart has activated up to 5CC aggregation. With 5CC, users of capable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 can experience speeds of up to 500 Mbps.

Users of 3CC-capable smartphones can experience speeds of up to 300 Mbps, while users of 4CC-capable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 can experience up to 400 Mbps speeds in areas where 3-component and 4-component carrier aggregation have been activated.

As of September, Smart has installed about 5,700 new LTE base stations across the country, boosting the total count to about 14,400—a 65-percent increase from the end-2017 count. Smart also increased the number of 3G base stations on its network to about 11,000.

Most extensive fiber network

On the other hand, PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network, the country’s most extensive fiber network at 221,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.

“With our improved fixed and wireless networks, we are in the best position to serve our customers’ growing need for digital services, particularly video,” Tamayo said. “As we roll-out LTE and LTE-A to more areas, we are also helping families stay connected, empowering entrepreneurs, and aiding local governments deliver timely services to their people,” Tamayo added.

In areas where upgraded networks have already been put in place, small business owners and Smart retailers have also reported increases in earnings, boosted by improved mobile internet experience in their towns.

In addition to network upgrades, Smart is also partnering with popular smartphone manufacturers in getting more affordable LTE-capable handsets out in the market, like the Samsung J2 Core, Oppo A37 and Starmobile Play Click, which are available with Smart.

Also available with the data-packed Smart Giga X plans are the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and the latest iPhones XS and XS Max.

Award-winning network

For these continuous network upgrade efforts, both PLDT and Smart have been cited by third party firms for being the country’s fastest networks. Earlier this year, PLDT and Smart were cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla®, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. Mobile analytics firm OpenSignal has also consistently cited Smart for having the country’s fastest LTE network for its past four study rounds.

Smart’s network transformation program also recently won at the prestigious Global Telecoms Awards in London, under the Telecoms Transformation category, besting entries from Saudi Telecom Company and Huawei, among others. Produced by industry publication Telecoms.com, the awards program recognizes innovation and excellence in the global telecommunications industry.

Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex is expected to reach P58 billion.

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