As more people shift to mobile internet and their smartphones for their communication and entertainment needs, the business of e-load retailers have likewise shifted: from selling primarily call and text services, they now earn additional income, thanks to their customers’ mobile data needs.
May Ladulay, a sari-sari store owner and Smart retailer in Brgy Nangka, Marikina City, has felt the positive impact of her loading business on her income. “Before, I load out only P500 in a day. Now, because of more data users in my area, sometimes P1,000 per day is not enough.”
Another retailer in Brgy Nangka, Ligaya Fajardo, also confirmed that business is brisk—no matter the hour. “Even late at night, people go to my store to load up their smartphones,” she said, noting that her store is open until past ten in the evening. “The office-goers on their way home from work, the call center agents—they pass by here before going home at night to load up, so that when they get to their houses, they can enjoy using mobile internet.”
“My income of P4,000 a week has increased to P6,000—we can definitely feel the changes,” added Fajardo.
The network upgrades in Metro Manila by PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) has not only improved mobile internet speeds, but have also helped businesses improve their bottom-line, especially for retailers in Marikina, where Smart recently boosted speeds on its 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.
At the beginning of the year, Smart announced that it was further improving LTE speeds in the country by rolling out LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) in more areas of the country. This includes the deployment of four-component (4CC) carrier aggregation, which features the combination of four separate spectrum bands, in Marikina.
“With our improved network now in place, more and more of our Marikina customers are using our data products to enjoy mobile internet on their smartphones, may it be to update their social media feeds, watch videos on-the-go on Youtube, iFlix, and iWant TV, or play mobile games,” said Alex O. Caeg, SVP and head of Consumer Business for Customer Development. “As our customers’ appetite for data increases, our partner-retailers’ businesses also flourish,” Caeg added.
“This is just a preview of what is to come for more parts of the country, as we roll-out LTE-A to more areas nationwide,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering. “We are bringing 4CC to Quezon City and other parts of Metro Manila, where LTE-A handsets are already being used.”
“With these network upgrades, our customers are now also experiencing better quality when they make phone calls,” Tamayo added.
Marikina is just the beginning
“As we upgrade our networks across Metro Manila, these improvements that we are experiencing in Marikina will soon be felt by more customers who avail of Giga Surf 50, All Out Surf 30, FB10 and SurfMax85, as well as our partner-retailers in more areas in the National Capital Region,” said Gia C. Palafox, VP and Head, Customer Development for NCR. “Marikina is just the beginning.”
In 2016, Smart started to deploy LTE in multiple frequencies including low band spectrum such as 700 MHz, initially in Boracay and in Metro Davao. This accelerated LTE deployment has enabled Smart to also roll-out LTE-A, which allows for even greater speeds and capacity through its capability called Carrier Aggregation (CA).
CA allows for the combination two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.
Last year, Smart’s LTE and 3G expansion program covered Metro Cebu, Rizal and Metro Manila and has since proceeded to other parts of the country. This has been complemented by a 3G rollout as well. As a result, the company expects to fulfill ahead of schedule its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover over 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile broadband using LTE and 3G by 2019.
“I can do business faster with the improved network,” said Michelle Magsael, whose Russell Sari-Sari store is also in Brgy Nangka. “The loading experience is instantaneous, and customers are happy with it.”
Longtime Smart subscriber and sub-dealer Emmariza Obenita, who has a stall inside Marikina Riverbanks Center, has also noticed the improvement. “I noticed when there was a recent interruption in signal, so I thought the network was just being fixed. Today, I can say that the network has really improved,” she said.
For Smart, LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable, and reliable internet services to as many customers as possible.