Smart Communications continues to ramp up its network upgrades with significant LTE speed improvements in Southern Metro Manila, Cebu, and Rizal.
Average download speeds were at 16.3Mbps and upload speeds were at 13.4Mbps based on internal tests conducted in the cities of Las Piñas, Taguig, Muntinlupa, and Parañaque which are home to about 12 million people, a fifth of Metro Manila’s population.
“LTE provides the best mobile data experience to subscribers and significantly boosts the speed, quality and reliability of our data service, through this LTE rollout, we are also laying the foundation for further improvements in our service, such as LTE-Advanced with Carrier Aggregation, in preparation for the coming of 5G in 2020 – Joachim Horn, Chief Technology and Information Advisor for PLDT and Smart.
Carrier Aggregation means combining capacity from two or more frequency bands, which results in super fast connection speeds of more than 100Mbps when using an LTE-A capable device.
During a presentation, he also explained in detail the long and tedious process for putting up a cell site, as well as the different challenges that come with it.
“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we are upgrading our network facilities. We assure you that we are taking steps to minimize the impact of these activities on our subscribers. In the end, our commitment to all our subscribers is that they will enjoy progressively better mobile data services in the next few months, particularly for those using LTE devices”
The results of the telco’s continuous network upgrade can already be felt in the Rizal province, where the average download speeds over LTE have improved to 24.2Mbps, while upload speeds have gone up to 16.3Mbps.
The positive impact of the continuous network expansion can also be seen in other parts of the country. Metro Cebu in particular, is experiencing average download speeds of 20.9Mbps, and upload speeds of 15.5Mbps on average.
Improvements in quality of LTE services have also been reported in Boracay and Metro Davao, where Smart has already completed its network overhaul program last year.
The telco aims to bring LTE coverage to a total of 785 municipalities by the end of 2017. This is half of the target stated in a three-year network rollout plan submitted by PLDT to the NTC last year. It also mentions that Smart hopes to bring LTE to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by the end of 2018.
For 2017, Smart aims to roll out 2,165 cell sites with LTE in low spectrum bands and 3,568 in high spectrum bands. The company will also continue to invest in 2G and 3G networks to cater to the demands of customers and ensure the best experience.
The modernization and expansion program involves re-equipping cell sites to utilize low-frequency bands such as 700MHz and 850MHz to boost LTE and 3G services, as these bands travel farther and can provide better coverage, even when indoors.
High frequency bands such as 1800MHz and 2100MHz will also be deployed to increase the capacity of each cell site to handle more traffic.