Smart mobile data speeds take lead in PH

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications posted the highest average download speeds for both 3G and LTE, amid steadily improving scores through the months, the latest J.P. Morgan study showed.

J.P. Morgan’s Asia Network Quality study, which cited crowd-sourced data gathered by wireless coverage research firm OpenSignal, showed Smart LTE service leading nationwide in terms of speed, with average download speeds of 11.64 Mbps on the country level.

The May 2017 report also showed Smart leading across areas in terms of LTE service, with average download speeds of 12.52 Mbps in Metro Manila, 11.96 Mbps in the Visayas and 9.44 Mbps in South Luzon.

“PLDT’s Smart has significant momentum across all circles measured. This likely implies a higher likelihood of market share gains going forward, with potentially better pricing power,” said J.P.Morgan in its study, which covers the months of February to April.

Smart also led in terms of 3G speeds nationwide, posting 2.29 Mbps average download speeds on a country level. Across areas, average download speeds on Smart’s 3G service were at 3.41 Mbps in Metro Manila, 1.74 Mbps in the Visayas, and 1.82 Mbps in South Luzon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but these test results show that our network improvement program is making progress. They are a testament to Smart’s commitment to continuously contribute to improving overall speeds in the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.

Smart is re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage. It is also deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle more calls, texts, and ever-increasing mobile data traffic.

PLDT and Smart have committed to make LTE progressively available to 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.

“We have ongoing network improvements in Metro Manila, and we look forward to providing our subscribers there with better indoor LTE and 3G data signal, as well as better indoor 3G and 2G voice signal once these activities are done,” he said.

“With these improvements, our subscribers can live their digital lifestyles to the fullest, using a combination of LTE-ready devices, Smart LTE SIMs and Smart’s newest and fastest network, and be there like never before,” Tamayo added.

“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we are upgrading our network facilities. We assure you that we are taking steps to minimize the impact of these activities on our subscribers. In the end, our commitment to all our subscribers is that they will enjoy progressively better mobile data services in the next few months, particularly for those using LTE devices,” he said.

Recent internal tests have shown improvements in speed in areas involved in the ongoing network rollout. Average LTE download speeds in northern Metro Manila, for example, are at 22.2 Mbps, while speeds are at 14.5 Mbps on average using Smart’s LTE service in southern Metro Manila. In Cebu, on the other hand, average download speeds on Smart’s LTE service are at 20.7 Mbps.

For these network improvement efforts, Smart was also recently named Digital Service Provider of the Year at the Asia Communication Awards, which recognizes outstanding performance by Asian carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers.

This comprehensive network modernization and expansion program is at the core of the PLDT group’s digital pivot. Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of P42.8 billion for 2016, which included the utilization of the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets. PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan has announced a total capital expenditure of P46 billion this year.

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