PLDT Inc.’s mobile division Smart Communications is reportedly planning to build out an additional 2,000 cell sites to expand its 4G LTE coverage within the next two years. The cellco’s pledge comes as it seeks to secure a further 25-year extension to its franchise – which will need to be approved by the Senate. In a meeting last week, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, vice chair of the Senate committee on public services, confirmed Smart’s commitment having queried with the company that it needs to improve the ratio of cell sites to users in the Philippines. According to Ejercito, with millions of subscribers currently relying on a chain of some 15,000 or so base stations on air, equivalent to a ratio of 2,244:1, Smart needs to improve that balance to meet future demand for data. ‘If Smart acts on building additional 2,000 cell sites, this will surely bring down the user-per-density ratio and improve services,’ he pointed out, adding that Smart has already committed to deploying at least 700 additional cell sites this year. While the Senate is keen to ensure Smart’s operating franchise is renewed, it is mindful of its responsibility to ensure customers are receiving a good service. ‘It is the legislators’ duty to voice out these complaints by millions of subscribers. Otherwise, if we just approve Smart’s franchise without raising these issues, we will continue to avail poor services,’ he said.