PLDT Inc. mobile unit Smart Communications has begun a major network expansion in Metro Manila to improve the coverage and quality of its voice, SMS and mobile internet services, particularly 4G LTE. Local press in the Philippines cite the cellco’s chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn as saying that the three-month project will significantly boost the reach of Smart’s LTE and 3G mobile data services across all 17 of the cities and municipalities of Metro Manila. Under the works, the operator will improve indoor coverage for both 3G and 4G signals, he said, given that as he points out: ‘people use mobile internet services mostly indoors, particularly in Metro Manila – in their homes, offices, restaurants, coffee shops, and the like’. In total, some 2,500 new cell sites will be deployed across Metro Manila using lower frequency bands – e.g. 700MHz, 850MHz and 900MHz – to provide the widest coverage possible in terms of indoor signals. In addition, 1800MHz and 2100MHz capacity is also being increased.
The Metro Manila works form part of a wider three-year network expansion that kicked off in Boracay and Metro Davao in the early part of 2016, and which has since been extended to Metro Cebu, where upgrade works are ongoing. Going hand in glove with the rollout, Smart is in talks with handset makers to usher in more affordable smartphones while longer term, it intends to make LTE progressively available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the Philippines by end-2018.