[4 September 2017] PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. has completed its network improvement efforts in Metro Cebu, paving the way for greater coverage and speeds on its LTE and 3G networks in the country’s second largest urban hub.
Smart Public Affairs head Mon Isberto tells Cebu media about the good news: Smart has finished its LTE rollout in Metro Cebu, and LTE support for Sun customers is coming soon.
Along with the improvement of Smart’s LTE network, PLDT is also making available LTE support for its Sun customers and launching it in its main “Sun country,” Cebu.
“With our improved LTE network in Cebu, many opportunities and possibilities are now within the reach of our Cebuano Smart and Sun subscribers,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering, adding that by the end of the year, Smart LTE will be rolled out in over 25 areas in Cebu province.
“After completing Metro Cebu, we will roll out LTE to the rest of the province this year, including some of Cebu’s tourist-popular and progressive areas, such as Daanbantayan, Moalboal, Oslob, and Toledo City,” Tamayo said. “Overall, we target to blanket 70% of the country’s population with LTE by the end of this year,” he added.
“Smart is committed to bring LTE to more areas in the Philippines and to make it available to even more Filipinos. We are encouraging our customers to check their SIMs and upgrade them so they can fully enjoy our improved network,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo emphasized the importance of a having a good LTE device and an LTE SIM in taking advantage of LTE. “Subscribers who have LTE phones but don’t have LTE SIMs must upgrade their SIMs to be able to maximize the LTE network,” he said. “They can swap their SIMs for free and retain their numbers.”
“We are also partnering with device vendors to make more LTE-capable handsets, especially those utilizing the 700 MHz frequency, available for those who already have LTE SIMs but may not have an LTE device just yet,” he added.
Metro Cebu is home to more than 2.8 million Filipinos, while passenger arrivals at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport hit nearly 9 million last year. It is also the country’s largest outsourcing destination outside of Metro Manila.
Cebu also hosts a significant proportion of the millions of Smart and Sun customers.
Leader in LTE speeds
A recent J.P.Morgan study showed that Smart LTE led in terms of average download speeds nationwide with 11 Mbps, while Visayas posted 8.3 Mbps average download speeds for the months of April to June.
Recent internal tests have also shown improvements in speed in Cebu, where median download speeds posted by Smart’s LTE service are at 17.6 Mbps.
“We look forward to providing our Cebuano subscribers with the best mobile data experience, which they can use to stream movies and music without long buffering, play games without lag, and update their social media accounts with no fuss, like never before,” Tamayo added.
Smart’s network improvement efforts in Metro Cebu, as well as in other major business hubs such as Metro Manila and Metro Davao, include re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage, and deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle more calls, texts, and ever-increasing mobile data traffic.
Three-year network improvement plan
This is also in keeping with the three-year network roll-out plan submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission in July last year, where Smart committed to make LTE progressively available to 95% of cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.
Smart began its LTE rollout in Metro Cebu late last year. Even with LTE as its focus, this was only part of a broader effort to improve the overall quality of service available to millions of Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers in Cebu.
This effort also includes the integration of the Smart and Sun mobile networks, which enabled Smart to install more new base stations for 2G, 3G, and LTE technologies to better serve the subscribers of both brands.
LTE, an all-IP network, delivers superior experience for users, particularly for data. It can also be quickly upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers who are using LTE SIMs on LTE-capable handsets.
Upgrade to LTE
Subscribers who wish to upgrade their SIMs to LTE can go to the nearest Smart Store to have their SIMs replaced free of charge. Postpaid users need to also bring a valid ID for verification. For SUN Subscribers, starting October, they can also upgrade their 3G SIMs to LTE in SUN Shops.
Now that SUN is already latched to the LTE network of SMART, SUN subs will be able to experience an improved service. To experience SUN’s LTE network, subs can now purchase a SUN LTE SIM and register to its newly launched LTE offer, which is the WAIS LTE 100. Just top-up P100 and register to the offer by texting LTE100 and send 247. Subs will be able to enjoy 700MB of open access and 300MB of Chat and emails all valid for 15 days.
Customers with 3G phones, tablets and computers can also enjoy Smart’s fastest LTE network speeds with Smart Bro LTE Pocket WiFi for only P1,295. The Smart Bro LTE Pocket WiFi also lets customers take advantage of improved indoor coverage, utilizing the 700Mhz band.
This comprehensive network modernization and expansion program is at the core of the PLDT group’s digital pivot. Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of P42.8 billion for 2016, which included the utilization of the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets. [END]