Smart network upgrades in Bulacan

Customers in Bulacan can now look forward to improved connectivity as PLDT wireless arm Smart Communication Inc. (Smart) rolls out Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) across Bulacan, which is expected to benefit students, employees, families, local governments and industries operating in the province.

“Our network upgrades in Bulacan are part of our nationwide efforts to bring better connectivity across the country, in order to improve the lives of our customers and their families, and to enhance the productivity of Bulacan’s businesses and enterprises,” said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering for PLDT and Smart.

Improved networks are now in place for Smart, Sun and TNT customers with enhanced LTE coverage and capacity in the Bulacan capital of Malolos, City of San Jose Del Monte, Obando, Balagtas, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, San Rafael and Pulilan, for example. Meanwhile, Dona Remedios Trinidad now has LTE for the first time.

With the upgrades, Smart’s LTE service is now available in more areas across Bulacan, including indoor locations.

LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable to LTE-Advanced, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.

Smart is also currently ramping up its carrier aggregation (CA) roll-out across the country. A major feature of LTE-A, CA combines two or more separate bands of radio frequencies to create a bigger pipe for faster data rates, and improve the overall user experience for streaming video, sending files on-the-go, and accessing information online, for example.

Jenelyn Cabardo, whose Jhen Store is in Pulilan, Bulacan, said her loading business has felt the boost from the recent network upgrades. “Aside from loading up for their calling and texting needs, my customers now top-up for their mobile data use,” she said.

Jennylu Vergara, who also owns a sari-sari store in Pulilan, said the improved network has likewise impacted her small business positively. “Now I can also sell mobile data load to my customers, who are mostly employees in nearby factories,” she said.

World-class internet service
These network upgrades are part of Smart’s thrust to provide world-class internet service to Filipinos in Bulacan and in other parts of the country.

Internal tests showed speeds ranging from 40Mbps to 70Mbps have been reached using LTE-A capable smartphones in areas like the Bulacan State University in Malolos, San Rafael and Santa Maria, for example.

“Mobile internet experience is best experienced with LTE, and with the appropriate devices, the frequency bands and carrier aggregation that our network supports,” Tamayo said.

“We encourage our Smart, Sun and TNT customers in Bulacan to upgrade their SIMs to LTE and use LTE-capable phones, so they can enjoy better mobile experience to stay connected with family through video calls and photo sharing, discover new things on YouTube, or access important online services,” Tamayo added.

PLDT’s ramped up LTE rollout is part of a broader effort to improve the overall quality of service available to millions of Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers. As of end-September, Smart has equipped over 5,700 base stations across the country with LTE, not only to expand LTE coverage but also to lay the ground for LTE-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with LTE-compatible smartphones. This puts the total count of LTE base stations at over 14,400, a 65-percent increase from the end-2017 count.

Underpinning PLDT’s integrated fixed and mobile network roll-out was the expansion of PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network. PLDT’s 221,000-kilometer fiber network, the most extensive in the country, also supports its mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.

Fastest network
As a result of integrated network transformation efforts, PLDT and Smart were also recently cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla®, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.

Smart also continues to lead in terms of LTE download speeds according to the latest Mobile Networks Update by independent mobile analytics firm OpenSignal. The report, which covered the months of May to July this year, showed Smart LTE download speeds nationwide at 13.09 Mbps (vs 7.34 Mbps). Open Signal has also cited Smart for providing its customers the best video experience in the Philippines.

Smart is on track to fulfilling its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with 3G/LTE coverage by the end of this year. PLDT has committed historic levels of resources to support network transformation which is estimated to amount to US$ 5 billion from 2016 to 2020, with capital expenditures expected to reach P58 billion this year.

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