Davao City will be the starting point of Smart Communications’ three-year plan to cover 95 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities with LTE (Long-Term Evolution) services by the end of 2018.
Starting August, Smart will boost its LTE coverage in Davao City and surrounding areas, with the goal of tripling the number of its LTE-capable sites by the end of this year.
“We are starting with Davao City next month. This city continues to grow in importance as a major trade, enterprise, and tourism hub in Mindanao,” PLDT and Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday (July 26).
He said this means Davao City will soon be covered with high-speed mobile broadband services.
Isberto said PLDT submitted last July 22 its three-year network roll-out plan as required by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). “Smart committed to rapidly expand both the coverage and capacity of its LTE services throughout the country,” he said.
This will be done using the company’s existing frequencies combined with the new spectrum to which it had gained access under the co-use arrangement between PLDT and the telecommunications business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Isberto said.
Under PLDT’s three-year plan, Smart will deploy LTE initially in areas with high population concentration where individuals and businesses require a network that can deliver high-speed data services.
Using the 700 Megahertz (MHz) covered by the co-use arrangement together with its existing frequencies, Smart will cover nearly 40 percent of the country’s 1,634 cities and municipalities by the end of 2016. This will cover about 60 percent of the country’s population.
Other key cities and municipalities will follow in 2017, and by 2018 a total of 1,551 cities and municipalities will be covered — about 95 percent of the area and 97 percent of the population.
This year, Smart is deploying the 700 MHz frequency to roll out LTE in 360 cell sites in Davao, Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila.
Smart has so far fired up eight 700 MHz-powered sites, five of them in Davao City (Matina, Maa, along San Pedro Street, at the PLDT building, and near the Davao City Golf Club).
Isberto said in the Matina site, Smart combined its 700 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands using carrier aggregation and achieved peak speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
He stressed, however, that actual speeds that may be experienced under normal circumstances will be influenced by the number of users being served by a particular base station.
Smart’s drive to boost data coverage and capacity across the country forms a major part of the PLDT Group’s capital expenditure program. PLDT has set aside about P43 billion in total capex for 2016 and has allocated an additional US$100 million to utilize the additional frequencies assigned to SMC.