Filipino operator Smart Communications (including Sun Cellular), the mobile arm of PLDT Inc., has announced that, having introduced 4G LTE services in Cebu City, it now intends to roll out its wireless coverage in other parts of the island province by the end of this year. The group’s vice president and head of public affairs, Ramon Isberto, confirmed the plan which was echoed by Mario Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering, who said: ‘After completing Metro Cebu, we will roll out LTE to the rest of the province this year, including some of Cebu’s tourist-popular and progressive areas such as Daanbantayan, Moalboal, Oslob, and Toledo City’.
Under a three-year network rollout plan, Smart began its LTE rollout in Metro Cebu last year and has now completely covered an area ranging from Liloan in the north, to Talisay City in the south. With Smart intent on meeting a regulatory commitment to make LTE available to 95% of Filipino cities and municipalities by end-2018, Tamayo said that the company is currently upgrading 4,000 cell sites across the country, including work to re-equip its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700MHz and 850MHz to provide better indoor coverage, and deploying high-frequency bands like 1800MHz and 2100MHz to increase cell sites’ capacity to handle more calls, texts, and ever-increasing mobile data traffic. ‘We target to blanket 70% of the country’s population with LTE by the end of the year,’ Tamayo added. Cebu also hosts around 1.4 million Smart subscribers and 1.8 million registered to sister firm Sun Cellular, but Tamayo said 70% to 80% of them are still on 2G or 3G.