Smart Communications said it grew its LTE base stations by 10% from last year and increased capacity by reallocating frequency from 2G. In a press statement, Smart said it now has 3,785 LTE base stations that provide coverage to 91% of the country’s municipalities and 94% of the population.
The PLDT wireless subsidiary said the roll out “also serves the purpose of laying the groundwork for the deployment of 5G.”
The company said the upgrade also enabled them to support the 36% spike in mobile data usage during the first six months of the year as more people worked and studied at home, and as more businesses relied on online services to continue operations during COVID-19 community quarantine.
Smart’s mobile traffic reached 1.3 Exabytes in the first half of the year, more than double the traffic in the same period last year.
“In most provinces, we have already upgraded our existing sites to LTE. We continue to add LTE bands and rollout additional physical sites so that we can support our customers’ ever-increasing need for connectivity, especially in the new normal,” said PLDT-Smart senior vice president for nnetwork planning and engineering Mario G. Tamayo.
Among the provinces with Smart LTE sites include Northern and Central Luzon provinces like Quirino and Aurora, Southern Luzon provinces like Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon, Visayas provinces like Capiz, Guimaras and Siquijor, and Mindanao provinces like Misamis Occidental, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, to name a few.
This year, Smart has also deployed 4G/LTE in municipalities in remote areas of Ifugao, Mindoro, Northern Samar, and Sulu, and is ramping up its rollout in Cagayan and Isabela.
Smart has also started to roll out equipment for 5G, which recently went live as a commercial service. The company said the 5G service will be rolled out to more areas in Metro Manila this year and will be extended to other urban centers next year.