SORSOGON residents can look forward to better mobile internet experience as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. rolls out Long Term Evolution and LTE-Advanced across the province.
Smart is more than doubling the number of LTE-powered cell sites serving the provincial capital of Sorsogon City, as well as rolling out LTE to key areas around the province like Bulan, Pilar, Castilla, Irosin, Gubat, and Matnog, to name a few.
Recent internal tests showed that speeds of up to 40 Mbps in areas like Sorsogon Bay, for example, were achieved using LTE and LTE-A-capable devices.
“This accelerated roll-out of LTE and LTE-Advanced is part of our commitment to bring world-class internet service to our customers in all parts of the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.
“Our ramped-up rollout of LTE-A is improving Smart mobile internet speeds in more areas nationwide, including Sorsogon, paving the way for better customer experience, and bolstering businesses, organizations and local governments,” he added.
Alongside its network upgrade efforts, Smart is also working with device manufacturers to make more LTE and LTE-A-capable smartphones and devices available in the market, such as the Huawei P20 series, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9, Oppo F5 and Samsung J2 Pro, which are available in the Smart Store.
“As shown by the experience of other countries, the network roll-out must be accompanied by the adoption of LTE and LTE-Advanced-capable mobile phones and devices, so that more people can experience the improved network,” Tamayo said.
Recently, Smart also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Sorsogon Provincial Government and InnoPub Media for a digital tourism initiative in the province, which includes the creation of the So Sorsogon travel guide app, and the installation of interactive markers at selected areas to trigger the download of more information about tourism in the province.
“With better connectivity, tourists traveling around Sorsogon can share their experiences in the province’s scenic areas while on-the-go, as well as learn more about Sorsogon and its heritage,” Tamayo said.
Sorsogon Gov. Robert Lee Rodrigueza said these network upgrades would be a “big boost” to Sorsogon, especially in information dissemination and tourism.
“We have a lot of beautiful tourist destinations to offer, and if we make them accessible to our people to further promote our province, for sure it will be a great help,” he said.
“Tourism is a catalyst for economic growth. Tourism equals jobs, livelihood and business opportunities. Certainly it will be a great help to our province,” he added.
Elsa Abitria, e-load seller from Punta Waling-Waling in Donsol, Sorsogon, has been selling load since the 1990s. She says her load sales have increased after Smart upgraded the network in their area. “When the signal improved, our sales also improved,” she said, adding that her customers, usually teachers and students, used mobile internet to help with their school work.
Fastest networks in PH
As a result of network transformation efforts, PLDT and Smart were recently cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla®, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.
Ookla said Smart achieved a Speed ScoreTM of 14.98, with average download speeds of 17.25 Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.65 Mbps, based on 2,118,464 user-initiated tests taken with Speedtest® on LTE-capable devices, while PLDT achieved a Speed Score of 17.31, with average download speeds of 22.84 Mbps and average upload speeds of 23.45 Mbps. The fixed network award is based on 29,076,090 user-initiated Speedtest nationwide for the same period.
Underpinning this high level of service is PLDT’s fiber network, the most extensive in the country, which also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.
LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable to LTE-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.
Smart is also ramping up the roll out of Carrier Aggregation, a feature of LTE-A which enables the combination of two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile phone users. 2-Component Carrier (2CC) carrier aggregation features the combination of two frequencies, while 3CC involves the combination of three frequencies and 4CC combines four bands.
Smart is on track to fulfilling its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile data service by the end of this year.
Nationwide, Smart is doubling the number of LTE base stations to about 17,700 nationwide and raising the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to more than 6,800, using frequencies that are compatible with CA-capable smartphones available in the market today.
PLDT has committed historic levels of resources to support network transformation which is estimated to amount to US$ 5 billion from 2016 to 2020, with capital expenditures expected to reach P58 billion this year.