Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT) and its mobile arm Smart Telecommunications have announced the completion of a fixed and mobile network modernisation project in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan. The upgrade forms part of the group’s nationwide PHP67 billion (USD1.57 billion) transformation which, upon completion, will benefit some 50 million Smart cellular users by providing enhanced mobile services, including SMS and mobile internet access – even to remote villages. The three-year upgrade project kicked off in early 2011 but is expected to be completed by the middle of this year, said Orlando B Vea, co-founder and chief wireless advisor of Smart. ‘While our closest competitor is just about to lay the groundwork, we have already passed the halfway mark of this landmark network undertaking,’ Vea said. To date, the PLDT group companies claim to have upgraded and optimised the entire infrastructure of their networks serving Visayas and Mindanao areas and Bicol and Luzon. The two firms are working with Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks on the programme. In brief, PLDT and Smart are looking to deploy a matrix of HSPA+, WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the Philippines to cover wider distances and serve the highest number of users with high speed wireless broadband access. The multi-platform network is supported by an extensive fibre-optic backbone network comprising more than 45,000km of looped fibre-optic cabling which covers Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.