Smart increases LTE base stations

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    Smart Communications Inc. said it has increased the number of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) base stations by 25 percent in the first nine months of the year, resulting in improved customer experience in terms of speed and reduced latency.

    In a statement, Smart said its 4G/LTE base stations grew by about 5,500 in the nine-month period, pushing its total LTE base stations across its network to about 21,700.

    This means that a growing number of Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers can enjoy marked improvements in their data experience, it added. The number of LTE data users rose by 82 percent as compared to a year ago.

    “By encouraging our customers to shift to LTE, we can achieve our goal of providing them the best customer experience,” said Alfredo Panlilio, Smart president and chief executive officer.

    Smart offered freebies such as 30 days of free YouTube for those who upgraded to LTE SIMs and 60 days free YouTube to those who upgraded to LTE smartphones.

    In the first nine months of the year, mobile service revenues grew 20 percent year-on-year to P52.6 billion, with mobile internet revenues up 47 percent to P34.5 billion.

    This is on the back of the surge in mobile internet traffic of Smart, TNT and Sun mobile brands which reached 1.1 exabytes (1106 PB), twice as large as the volume recorded in the same period last year.

    In the third quarter alone, internet traffic rose 20 percent compared to the previous quarter. Smart said driving the dramatic increase in data traffic are the use of video and e-games, which require the support of a good mobile network.

    The share of data and broadband to PLDT’s total service revenues has continued to increase and is now at 66 percent, up from 60 percent in the same period last year.

    Smart said the continuing rollout of its 4G/LTE network has made these gains possible as it improved mobile service quality and coverage.

    PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which also supports Smart’s mobile network, is now at more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide and remains unparalleled.

    The sustained improvement of the PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditure (capex) program estimated at P78.4 billion in 2019, of which P53.4 billion was already spent at the end of September.

    The 2019 capex includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks, as well as the rollout of last-mile installation and customer premises equipment for fixed broadband.