Smart expands LTE, 5G network

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    PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) has increased its Long Term Evolution (LTE) base stations by 10 percent in first half this year compared last year to meet surging demand for data services across the country.

    Smart also increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 megahertz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 Smart base stations are now providing additional capacity for its LTE network.

    To date, Smart LTE is available in 91 percent of the country’s municipalities and serves 94 percent of the population.

    These network upgrades enabled Smart to support the 36 percent spike in mobile data usage during the first six months of the year, as more people worked and studied at home, and as more businesses relied on online services to continue serving their customers amid the community quarantines.

    Mobile traffic reached 1.3 exabytes in the first half of the year, more than double the traffic in the same period last year. This year, Smart is also set to further increase the number of its LTE sites and availability across all municipalities.

    “This is part of our commitment to keep improving our customers’ experience on our network, wherever in the country they may be,” said Mario Tamayo PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering.

    “In most provinces, we have already upgraded our existing sites to LTE. We continue to add LTE bands and rollout additional physical sites so that we can support our customers’ ever-increasing need for connectivity, especially in the new normal,” Tamayo added.

    Among the provinces with Smart LTE sites are Northern and Central Luzon provinces like Quirino and Aurora, Southern Luzon provinces like Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon, Visayas provinces like Capiz, Guimaras and Siquijor, and Mindanao provinces like Misamis Occidental, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, to name a few.

    This year, Smart has also deployed 4G/LTE in municipalities in remote areas of Ifugao, Mindoro, Northern Samar, and Sulu, and is ramping up its rollout in Cagayan and Isabela.

    In addition, Smart has started to rollout equipment to support Smart’s 5G network, which recently went live as a commercial service. In the initial phase of Smart’s 5G commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers will be able to enjoy the super-fast data service of Smart 5G in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.

    The 5G service will be rolled out to more targeted areas in Metro Manila this year and will be extended to other urban centers next year.