SMART Communications, Inc. (Smart), the mobile unit of PLDT Inc., said recent field tests in Metro Cebu are show-ing “impressive” LTE and 3G speeds in the Visayas region’s premier urban hub with the company’s nationwide network modernization program now in full swing.
Internal field tests conducted in key areas in and around Metro Cebu have shown that download speeds on Smart’s LTE service have jumped at least 146 percent to 19.7 Mbps and have reached up to 52 Mbps in certain are-as like Cordova, while upload speeds have also risen by 134 percent to 14.3 Mbps.
Download speeds on Smart’s 3G service, on the other hand, went up 275 percent to 6 Mbps, while upload speeds improved 45 percent to 1.6 Mbps, it said.
LTE speeds exceeding 20 Mbps have been recorded in both indoor and outdoor areas around Metro Cebu, Smart said. LTE speeds of more than 24 Mbps were recorded at SM Seaside Mountain Wing and Banilad Road in Cebu City, while speeds in excess of 37 Mbps were reached in Jollibee Minglanilla.
LTE speeds above 21 Mbps were also posted in tourist-favorite Lantaw Native Restaurant in Mactan and at the Mactan International Airport, while LTE reached speeds of 47 Mbps were recorded in Brgy. Tingub in Mandaue City.
On the other hand, speeds in excess of 90 Mbps have reportedly been achieved in and around the Minglanilla Sports Complex, using carrier aggregation (CA) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)-capable handsets.
Carrier aggregation refers to the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to de-liver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.
“We are accelerating the rollout of LTE because it provides an immediate significant boost to the speed, quality and reliability of our service. Moreover, it lays the foundation for the rollout of LTE-A with CA and puts us in a position to further improve internet service as more handsets capable of CA become available in the market,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart.
“These are just initial results, and we are already nearing the midpoint of our implementation in Metro Cebu,” Horn added.
“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we make changes in our network facilities. These activi-ties are being done during the most inactive hours of the day, and we are putting systems in place to minimize the impact on our subscribers,” he said.
The company said the improvements in LTE speeds were brought about by an increase in 3G and LTE base stations in Metro Cebu, which are up by 16 percent and 108 percent, respectively. As a result, data volume traffic on 3G and LTE has also increased, according to network monitoring data.
Metro Cebu is home to more than 2.8 million Filipinos, while passenger arrivals at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport hit nearly 9 million last year. It is also the country’s largest outsourcing destination outside of Metro Manila.
Smart has completed its network overhaul program in Boracay and Metro Davao, while a major leg of this network expansion is underway in and around Metro Manila. In nearby Rizal, Smart’s average LTE download speeds jumped 455 percent to 23.3 Mbps and average 3G download speeds rose by 37 percent to 3.7 Mbps due to significant in-creases in the number of LTE and 3G base stations in the province.
LTE delivers superior experience for users, particularly for data. It can also be quickly upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers who are using LTE SIMs on LTE-capable handsets.
Smart began rolling out its LTE-A service in April 2016. Initially rolled out in Boracay, Smart’s LTE-A service delivers peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable smartphones.
Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of parent company PLDT’s capital expenditure program of $1 billion for 2016, with an additional $100 million allocated to utilize the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets.
In its three-year network rollout plan submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in July last year, Smart said it is focused on accelerating its LTE deployment to make it progressively available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.