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Smart on track to 90% mobile internet coverage

/ 05:12 AM December 04, 2017

Industry giant PLDT Inc. said subsidiary Smart Communications would meet its commitment to cover 90 percent of all municipalities with 3G and 4G mobile internet by early next year.

In a statement, Smart said it was close to completing the upgrade of more than 4,200 3G and 4G sites nationwide.

“We are already at about 89 percent, so we will definitely meet that target early next year,” Joachim Horn, chief technology and information adviser for PLDT and Smart, said in a statement.

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Smart said it had ramped up the rollout of LTE across its network following the joint acquisition with rival Globe Telecom of San Miguel Corp.’s telco assets last year. That deal came with a couse agreement covering SMC’s 4G telco frequencies, in particular, those in the 700 Megahertz band.

“This year, we more than doubled the number of sites, which are capable of LTE,” said Horn. He cited Metro Manila, where he claimed 90 percent of sites had LTE.

PLDT highlighted internal tests in Parañaque, which recorded median LTE download speeds of 17.9 megabits per second and median upload speeds of 12 mbps, while median download and upload speeds of 27.6 mbps and 16.1 mbps, respectively, were posted in Caloocan.

In Taguig, Smart LTE posted median download speeds of 18.6 mbps, while median upload speeds were at 13.7 mbps, the statement showed.

Smart was likewise undertaking other LTE upgrades, citing four-component carrier aggregation, or 4CC. “We already tried this in Boracay and we have just completed the upgrade of Marikina, where we have upgraded all base stations with 4-carrier aggregation,” said Horn.

“We are starting in Marikina, but our intention is to roll this out in Metro Manila in steps. And the next area is Quezon City,” he added.

Carrier aggregation allows the combination of radio frequency bands. This, in turn, helps deliver faster data speeds to users. Horn noted this could be accessed only by 4CC-capable devices and LTE SIMs.

A recent test was conducted using high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

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Smart has finished its LTE deployment in Metro Davao and Metro Cebu, on the island of Boracay and in the province of Rizal. It is underway in Metro Manila and in key cities in other parts of the country.

“Smart is also partnering with device vendors in providing more affordable LTE-capable smartphones in the market as well as actively urging its customers to upgrade to LTE SIMs so they can maximize the Smart’s LTE network,” the company said.

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TAGS: Business, PLDT Inc., Smart Communications
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