To carry out its digital pivot strategy, PLDT Inc. (PLDT) is reinforcing its network starting with the roll out of the country’s first LTE-Advanced service.
PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications (Smart) Inc. announced the launch the of LTE-A in Boracay, Aklan.
“We are pushing for the roll out of 4G, because we see that the consumer will adopt 4G phones, because it is becoming cheaper and cheaper,” PLDT Chief Technology and Integration Advisor Joachim Horn said in Makati City Tuesday.
The LTE-A service will initially be offered in Boracay. From there, Smart will gauge the reception from consumers.
Currently, the LTE-A service is limited to Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge owners.
Asked about the prospects of LTE-A in other areas, Horn said, “It depends on how much the customers want it.”
LTE-A is relatively simple, more like a software upgrade, so it is easy to switch on should it have positive reception from consumers, Horn noted.
“As we do the LTE-A upgrades, it is a pretty small part but we have to do other improvements because your backbone has to be strong in order to benefit from the aggregations in the network,” said Horn.
PLDT is set to push improvements in 3G and 4G/LTE services and boost network capacity as it braces for the arrival of 5G in 2020.
“For this purpose, we are working closely with NTT DoCoMo, which is one of the global pace-setters in the development of 5G,” Horn said.
In a network integration program started last year, Smart and affiliate Sun Cellular have been synergizing their networks to improve coverage and quality of service for subscribers using 2G, 3G and LTE capable devices.
“For example, where it makes technical and marketing sense, we equip a single cell site – either of Smart or Sun – so that this can serve the subscribers of both brands,” Horn said.
“Improving our 3G data service thus delivers immediate benefits to the largest number of people in our subscriber base. At the same time, we have been expanding the coverage of our LTE network because the number of subscribers using LTE phones is steadily rising,” Horn said.
“And now, we have also begun to deploy LTE-A. The pace of this deployment will be driven by several factors, including the rate at which subscribers start using LTE-A capable devices,” he added.