Smart edges out Globe in network modernization race

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Starting in late 2011, Smart replaced the radio equipment in 9,500 base stations with next-generation facilities that have increased its network?s capacity to handle voice, text messaging, and mobile broadband services. ?Every single base station of Smart is now easily upgradeable to fourth-generation technologies like HSPA+ and LTE,? Smart president and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno said in a statement. ?This enables us to offer high-speed mobile broadband in many more parts of the country.? LTE is short-hand for Long Term Evolution, which is widely touted as the next generation of high-speed wireless broadband technologies capable of providing data speeds of up to 100 mbps and beyond. Smart has been deploying LTE on a test basis since last year and has been gearing up to offer it as a commercial service. ?In the next few months, Smart will move on to the next phase of its network modernization program, and this will include among others introducing new billing and customer management systems,? said Orlando B. Vea, Smart?s chief wireless adviser. Originally scheduled for completion in 2013, the overhaul of Smart?s cellular network is part of the P67-billion network modernization program of the PLDT Group. The program has been fast-tracked in anticipation of increased demand for mobile services, particularly wireless broadband. ?The modernization program is not just an upgrade of our physical network equipment. We are investing heavily in our support systems and personnel re-training. That is why we refer to the program as a ?technology refresh?,? said Nazareno. Globe, meanwhile, said that the upgrade of its network facilities is progressively being conducted as new equipment rolls out in various parts of the country. The company added that within a span of four months since its announcement in January this year, Globe has modernized at least 30 percent of its network equipment located in various cellsites nationwide. ?We are fast tracking certain areas to address strong consumer demand and clamor for better services. Overall, we are on target with the roll-out plan,? said Robert Tan, chief technical adviser of Globe Telecom. ?Our goal is to have seamless change-outs of the network with as minimal impact on customer experience as possible. The improvements in our service quality will be felt by our customers in an increasing number of areas across the country as the network upgrade progresses towards completion.? To date, Globe customers in South Luzon; the Davao Gulf provinces, including Davao City; and Compostela Valley now enjoy improved services such as quick call connections, rare dropped calls as well as faster and greater access to Unli offers. In addition, Davao City and adjacent provinces are now fully equipped with new generation mobile systems supporting high-speed data, which brings speeds up to 5 mbps. Globe is rolling out over 10,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable, which will significantly increase capacity, resiliency and better traffic management to accommodate and protect more voice, SMS, and data traffic. Tan noted that hand-in-hand with the total network change-out, Globe is also implementing mitigating measures to accommodate current voice, text and data traffic in heavy user areas. ?Even as we roll-out the modernization program for the network, Globe continues to invest in existing infrastructure to better serve our customers. We are, in fact, implementing measures to boost our 3G signal, particularly in high-traffic areas including Makati City,? added Tan. Globe is also in the thick of a massive, multi-year modernization program that aims to beef-up Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and landline services nationwide. The project costs over $70 million and forms part of the $700-million total network modernization investment of Globe. To date, DSL services of Globe, known as Tattoo@Home, have been beefed-up in the National Capital Region. DSL upgrades in Southern Luzon and the Visayas are already underway. Globe said it expects that more of its subscribers will be able to experience service improvements by the third quarter of 2012. These improvements include faster call connections, less dropped calls as well as faster sending and receipt of text messages. ]]>

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