Smart Communications Inc. said it plans to upgrade more than 4,200 3G and LTE sites across the country as part of a network modernization effort.
“Our commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission is to meet 90 percent municipality coverage next year for 3G and 4G mobile broadband, and we are well on-track to meet this,” Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for parent PLDT Inc. and Smart said.
“We are already at about 89 percent, so we will definitely meet that target early next year,” Horn added.
Smart has stepped-up its mobile data roll-out significantly this year, especially for LTE.
“This year, we more than doubled the number of sites which are capable of LTE,” said Horn, citing Metro Manila where about 90 percent of sites already have LTE.
Improvements are already being felt throughout Metro Manila. Recent internal tests in Parañaque recorded median LTE download speeds of 17.9 Mbps and median upload speeds of 12 Mbps, while median download and upload speeds of 27.6 Mbps and 16.1 Mbps, respectively, were posted in Caloocan.
In Taguig, Smart LTE posted median download speeds of 18.6 Mbps, while median upload speeds were at 13.7 Mbps.
Horn also bared “a second wave of upgrades” for Smart’s LTE sites—four-component carrier aggregation, or 4CC. “We already tried this in Boracay, and we have just completed the upgrade of Marikina, where we have upgraded all base stations with 4-carrier aggregation,” Horn said. “The benefit for the customer is much higher capacity, and much higher speeds. So if you go to Marikina, you will easily be able to achieve more than 100 Mbps—on your phone” he added.
“We are starting in Marikina, but our intention is to roll this out in Metro Manila in steps. And the next area is Quezon City,” he added.
Horn said Carrier Aggregation” allows the combination two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.
4CC aggregation features the combination of four separate spectrum blocks to deliver much greater capacity and speeds.
Horn said users must 4CC-capable devices and LTE SIMs to be able to fully enjoy 4CC speeds.
Earlier this year, Smart activated 4CC in Boracay, reaching average speeds of 280 Mbps in initial runs using Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, 4CC carrier aggregation-capable smartphones available in the market.
After the initial deployment of 4CC technology in Metro Manila, Smart’s internal tests showed consistent delivery of speeds breaching 300 Mbps in a single-user scenario, and over 200 Mbps in a multi-user, daytime set-up.
“This only goes to show that we have put in place a network that is capable of providing these high speeds,” Horn said.