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Where in the country is Smart’s LTE service the fastest? Not in Manila

/ 02:10 AM November 24, 2016

PLDT Inc.’s flagship mobile unit Smart Communications is  expanding LTE services in large urban areas across the country, including Metro Davao and Cebu.

As a result of an initial roll-out, LTE outdoor coverage in Metro Davao was now at 98 percent, while indoor coverage was at 66 percent, the firm said in a statement Wednesday.

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“In Metro Davao, the biggest change is the huge improvement in indoor coverage for LTE,” Joachim W. Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart, said in the statement.

“This is important because people use mobile internet services mostly indoors—in their homes, offices, restaurants, coffee shops and the like.  As a result, Davao is setting the pace for the country’s major urban centers in terms of mobile internet experience and is the best place to enjoy fast mobile internet services,” he added.

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Nonetheless, Horn said LTE infrastructure was also being rolled out in Metro Cebu, as well as areas in Metro Manila.

“This is part of our three-year plan to bring high-speed LTE all over the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, the head of network planning for Smart, said in the same statement.

Superior data experience

LTE, a 4G mobile phone technology, is an all-internet protocol network that delivers a “superior data experience” to customers as compared to 3G technologies.

Smart said Metro Davao saw a “significant increase” in coverage and capacity after the number of LTE base stations  was tripled.

At the same time, low-band frequencies, specifically 850 megahertz (Mhz) and 700 Mhz, were deployed for the use of Smart’s LTE service. Low-band frequencies cover a larger area and provide better indoor signals.

So far, subscriber data usage has gone up in Davao. In the first few weeks after the completion of the network roll out there, data usage using LTE jumped over 40 percent, Horn said.

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Smart’s LTE service would further be strengthened as it deploys more 700 Mhz base stations in the metro areas of Davao, Cebu and Manila, the firm claimed.

The use of these frequencies has been integrated into the three-year implementation plan submitted by PLDT to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last July.  This plan is focused on deploying Smart’s LTE service to 95 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities by end-2018.

PLDT acquired in May the added frequencies as part of a joint deal with rival Globe Telecom to buy the telco unit of San Miguel Corp.

The transaction lured the scrutiny of the Philippine Competition Commission, but the antitrust body was eventually barred temporarily from launching a comprehensive review after PLDT and Globe sought the intervention of the Court of Appeals.

As a result, the roll-out of new frequencies could continue sans interruption, both telcos had said. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

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