PLDT Inc.’s mobile division Smart Communications has confirmed it is accelerating its deployment of 4G LTE services across the country, targeting coverage of 785 municipalities by the end of 2017. The figure represents around 50% of the overall target the cellco set itself in the three-year programme submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in late 2016. In total, Smart plans to make LTE ‘progressively available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country’ by the end of next year. Chief technology and information adviser for PLDT and Smart, Joachim Horn, confirmed in a statement that in 2017, Smart will commission 2,165 4G LTE sites in low spectrum bands and 3,568 sites in high spectrum bands, adding that the company will also ‘continue to invest in our 2G and 3G networks to meet customer demand and ensure best customer experience’.
Smart’s rollout programme comprises the upgrade of cell sites operating at 700MHz and 850MHz to provide wide area and better indoor coverage, while 1800MHz and 2100MHz deployments will continue apace to allow Smart to increase the capacity of each cell site to handle more calls, texts and ever-increasing mobile data traffic. With work already completed on the enhancement of 3G and 4G services in Boracay and Metro Davao last year, Smart is currently focusing its efforts in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, where network upgrades are still ongoing and are expected to be finished within months.