PLDT Inc. mobile arm Smart Communications has reported a sharp spike in 4G LTE data customers on the back of its aggressive network upgrade programme, The Philippine Star writes. The mobile unit recorded an 82% year-on-year increase in 4G data users in the year to 30 September 2019, boosted by the deployment of 5,500 additional LTE base stations in the first nine months of this year, to about 21,700. The drive is being complemented by Smart’s efforts to partner with ‘popular’ smartphone manufacturers to release more models on the market. ‘This means that a growing number of Smart, TNT and Sun Cellular subscribers are able to enjoy marked improvements in their data experience given that LTE provides the best customer experience in terms of speed and reduced latency,’ Smart said in a statement.
The PLDT unit has been encouraging users to upgrade to the next generation technology by bundling free services – such as YouTube access with no data charges – for anyone purchasing 4G SIMs and handsets/devices. As a result, it notes that mobile traffic for its Smart, TNT and Sun Cellular mobile brands reached 1.1 exabytes in 9M19, double the volume recorded in the same period of 2018. With users clamouring for new products and services based on video and e-gaming, PLDT-Smart has accelerated its 4G rollout supported by a record group-wide capital expenditure programme in 2019 of PHP78.4 billion (USD1.54 billion), of which PHP53.4 billion was already spent by 30 September. Investments have included upgrades to network and IT systems, including providing increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fibre-optic transport and new international cable networks, as well as the rollout of last-mile installation and customer premises equipment (CPE) for fixed broadband, it confirmed.
PLDT’s fibre-optic infrastructure, which also supports Smart’s mobile network, now spans more than 307,000km nationwide.