Smart Communications Inc has this three-year plan to cover 95% of the country's cities and municipalities with its LTE service by end of year 2018. And as we already know, Smart has already begun rolling this out with the firing up of a few 700MHz cell sites in the country and majority of it are in Davao city alone. Thankfully, Davao city is also part of this plan and soon the LTE coverage in this beautiful city in the south will experience an even more enhanced LTE speed.
Under this plan, Smart will boost its LTE coverage in Davao City and its surrounding municipalities by tripling the number of its LTE-capable sites by the end of this year.
"Davao City continues to grow in importance as a major trade, enterprise. and tourism hub in Mindanao. In line with this, we are expanding the capacity and coverage of our network here, particularly for mobile data," said Ramon Isberto, Head of Public Affair at PLDT and Smart.Smart added that they will do it by using its existing frequencies combined with the new spectrum that it had gained access to under the co-use arrangement between PLDT and the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The three-year roll out plan was one of the conditions imposed by the NTC in approving the frequency co-use arrangement between Smart and BellTel.
And under this three-year plan, Smart will continue deploying LTE initially in areas with high population concentration, where individuals and businesses require a network that can deliver high-speed data services.
The 700MHz spectrum that was granted to Smart, they will combine this with their existing frequencies. And with this plan, Smart will cover nearly 40% of the country's 1,634 cities and municipalities by the end of the year, with other key cities and major municipalities to follow in 2017, and eventually cover other 1,551 before 2018 ends.
As of writing, Smart has officially fired up eight 700MHz-powered sites in the entire Philippines. You will be amazed to know that FIVE of these are in Davao City, and those are in Matina, in Barangay Ma-a near DBP Village, along San Pedro Street near Osmena Park, at the PLDT Building along Ponciano Reyes Street, and at Kilometer 4 near Davao City Golf Club. The other three sites are in Tanay Rizal, Bacoor Cavite and Manggahan area in Pasig City.
Another part of the rollout plan is the technique called carrier aggregation. This is essentially combining two frequencies to achieve wider and faster coverage. They did this in Matina Davao site, where Smart combined the 700MHz with 1800MHz spectrum. They registered speeds of up to 200mbps. Amazing, right?!
Now, Smart isn't just working on activating more and combining more of their cell sites in the country. It's just one of those steps or plans they have provided to NTC which will eventually be realized . Smart is also working on other things to make sure that more and more people will enjoy the best of 4G or LTE technology, one of them is by partnering with smartphone and tablet manufacturers to release LTE and 700MHz supported devices for very affordable prices. Remember the MyPhone My25 for only Php888 and the Starmobile Play Click for Php1,288? Well that was just the beginning. Increasing the cell sites' capacities to accommodate more users at the same time and taking care of existing customers are some other things they are working on as part of this big rollout plan.
One of the questions raised during event was, "all of these upgrades you plan to do and have been doing all have to do with 4G and LTE technology, what about the 3G space or those users who only have 3G capability devices? Do they need to upgrade too to enjoy this enhanced connectivity? And I liked what the answer was, Smart said they will also benefit from all of these enhancements and migration of users to LTE sphere "indirectly." Meaning that the 3G space will become less populated as many users transition to the LTE and when this happen, the 3G bandwidth and users will of course experience an increase in speed.
So yes, they are starting this rollout in Davao. If you live within the city, expect some increase in LTE speed in the next couple of months. And also at the same time, expect some network coverage issues from time to time in areas where they will do the upgrade.
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