Smart says it will ramp up number of LTE sites in Palawan

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications said it plans to increase the number LTE sites in Palawan, starting with its capital Puerto Princesa.

Smart said its initial internal tests in areas covering the Puerto Princesa airport and Honda Bay showed LTE download speeds of between 12 to 60 Mbps.

“With our ramped-up rollout across Palawan, travelers from all over can now enjoy world-class connectivity in one of the country’s premier tourist destinations,” said Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice president for network planning and engineering for PLDT and Smart.

“Using our LTE network now in place, they can stay in touch with their loved ones via video calls or share their videos of the province’s sights and sounds on social media while on-the-go, especially in time for the upcoming Baragatan Festival, which showcases the best of the province,” Tamayo added.

Driven by increased data use among customers in Puerto Princesa, now that the upgraded network is now in place in the city, Palawan has also posted month-on-month growth in sales over the last six months.

Puerto Princesa is just one of many high-traffic areas where Smart has already deployed LTE. Recently, Smart also fired up LTE in the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes.

It also launched LTE in tourist-popular Sagada in Mountain Province in April, when Sagada elders and PLDT and Smart officials joined forces to inaugurate Smart’s cell site in the town.

Since the launch, tourists hiking through Sagada’s popular sights, such as Marlboro Country, Blue Soil Hills and Hanging Coffins, can upload their photos, update their social media, and keep in touch with family via messaging apps in real time.

Tourists in Sarangani who took part in the recent SarBay Festival were also able to enjoy better connection with Smart’s newly launched LTE-A in the area and use it during the festivities.

“This is part of Smart’s broader effort to deliver world-class Internet service to every corner of the country. Now that our sites are up in areas like Puerto Princesa, Basco, Sagada and Sarangani, we will be able to serve our customers better, wherever they may be,” Tamayo added.

In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Smart installed more than 1,300 LTE base stations, raising the total count to more than 10,000. This year, Smart plans to double the number of LTE base stations on its network to about 17,700 and raise the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to 6,800.

Parent company PLDT is committing historic levels of resources to support network transformation. This year, capex is expected to reach P58 billion, and will likely stay at that level over the next two years, bringing the Group’s total capex to nearly P260 billion since it embarked on its network and IT transformation programs in 2016.

This is in addition to the nearly P175 billion that PLDT has invested in network building from 2011 to 2015.

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