Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co’s (PLDT’s) mobile division Smart Communications has set out its stall to cover 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities with LTE technology by 2018, under a three-year commitment submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). PLDT’s wide-reaching deployment programme forms a core component of the joint deal it recently agreed with rival Globe Telecom to buy up the spectrum assets of San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
Despite an ongoing legal review of the deal by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), which last week saw the Court of Appeals deny Globe’s petition to halt the review, Smart has pledged to accelerate the rollout, by expanding both the coverage and capacity of its LTE services in the country. By the end of this year, PLDT says that Smart will finish deploying 700MHz services under the co-use arrangement at no fewer than 360 cell sites in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao – achieving coverage of nearly 40% of the country’s cities and municipalities in the process. Further expansion works will take place in 2017, with all 1,551 cities and municipalities expected to be served by 2018. Concurrently, PLDT is readying its network to support LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services, noting that it has set aside approximately PHP43 billion (USD915 million) in total capital spending budget for 2016.