TELECOM | Smart LTE powers Bohol Sandugo Festival
Boholanos can now enjoy better connectivity as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) rolls out Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced across the province, improving customers’ mobile data experience in time for the Sandugo Festival.
Smart is increasing the number of LTE sites across Bohol, including its capital Tagbilaran City, where sites are expected to almost double. Smart LTE is also in place in tourist areas Panglao and Loboc, as well as in Bohol towns like Albuquerque, Calape, Catigbian, Clarin, Cortes, Dagohoy, Dimiao, Duero, Garcia-Hernandez, Guindulman, Lila, Loay, Loon, Maribojoc, Tubigon and Valencia.
Recent internal tests showed that speeds ranging from 20 Mbps to almost 100 Mbps in areas like Tagbilaran, Dauis and Baclayon, for example, were achieved using LTE and LTE-A-capable devices.
“The more widespread deployment of LTE and LTE-Advanced is part of our commitment to bring world-class internet service to our customers wherever they may be in the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering. “Our ramped-up rollout of LTE-A is boosting Smart mobile data speeds in more areas nationwide, including Bohol, paving the way for better customer experience, and supporting businesses, organizations and local governments.”
Imelda dela Cruz, whose cellphone repair shop also sells e-load to customers in Tagbilaran, said she has felt the improved speeds herself whenever she uses mobile data to stream her favorite movies on iFlix. “Smart LTE is really fast here in Bohol, even outside of Tagbilaran,” she said. “Our customers say they use it to access Facebook and get in touch with family members abroad.”
Why LTE, LTE-A?
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-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.
Smart is also ramping up the roll out of carrier Aggregation (CA), a feature of LTE-A which enables the combination of two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile phone users. 2-Component Carrier (2CC) carrier aggregation features the combination of two frequencies, while 3CC involves the combination of three frequencies and 4CC combines four bands.
Smart is on track to fulfilling its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile data service by the end of this year.
“On mobile, as shown by the experience of other countries, the network roll-out must be accompanied by the adoption of LTE and LTE-Advanced-capable mobile phones and devices,” Tamayo said.
Nationwide, Smart is doubling the number of LTE base stations to about 17,700 nationwide and raising the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to more than 6,800, using frequencies that are compatible with CA-capable smartphones available in the market today.
Fastest networks in PH
Amid historic levels of investment poured into transforming its fixed and mobile networks to bring world-class connectivity nationwide, PLDT and Smart were also recently cited for being the country’s fastest networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.
Ookla said Smart achieved a Speed ScoreTM of 14.98, with average download speeds of 17.25 Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.65 Mbps, based on 2,118,464 user-initiated tests taken with Speedtest® on LTE-capable devices in the Philippines for Q1-Q2.
On the other hand, PLDT achieved a Speed Score of 17.31, with average download speeds of 22.84 Mbps and average upload speeds of 23.45 Mbps. The fixed network award is based on 29,076,090 user-initiated Speedtest nationwide for the same period.
Initial data included in Ookla’s country reports showed Smart posting big leads in key cities like Quezon City, Makati and Manila, for example, while PLDT is way ahead in Quezon City, Pasig and Manila.
In Quezon City, for example, Smart posted a Speed ScoreTM of 24.09 Mbps, more than twice the speed of the competing network. This reflects the results of the major network upgrade activities that Smart recently undertook in the city, including the activation of LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation.
For mobile, the Speed Score incorporates a measure of each provider’s download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. Tests used to calculate the Speed Score exclusively come from ‘modern devices’, which are devices capable of connecting to the market’s fastest, generally available technology.
The awards come as PLDT continues to invest 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.
Alongside Smart’s ramped-up LTE and LTE-A roll out, PLDT is also aggressively rolling out its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.