PLDT Inc. mobile subsidiary Smart Communications is embarking on a major network upgrade programme in Marikina City and Quezon City to improve mobile data services through the implementation of 3G (W-CDMA) and 4G (LTE) technologies. Starting this month, Smart will target the upgrade of cell sites as part of the network expansion and modernisation plan that the cellco promised to undertake when it bought half of the telecommunications assets of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) in 2016. The multi-billion-dollar deal, which mainly involved giving PLDT and Globe access to SMC’s valuable mobile frequencies, finally closed on 30 May 2017, resulting in the pair now holding about 80% of all available telco frequencies in the country.
Mario Tamayo, senior vice president for network planning and engineering at PLDT and Smart, said the upgrades will be carried out on a step-by-step basis, ‘done gradually’ to cover specific areas of Marikina and Quezon, to minimise disruption to services. ‘We are doubling the number of our LTE equipment in Marikina and Quezon City, and expanding support for 3G as well,’ he added. ‘By the end of our upgrades, we expect to improve the coverage of our 700MHz and 1800MHz frequencies in the area, which will widen and improve indoor coverage, as well as increase each cell site’s capacity to handle more calls, texts, and data traffic,’ he said. Smart has finished its LTE rollout in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, as well as in the island resort of Boracay and in Rizal province. The rollout is currently underway in Metro Manila.