PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) have accelerated the rollout of the group’s fixed and wireless networks, boosting data speeds and company revenues in the first half of the year.
As of end-June, Smart has installed more than 3,900 LTE base stations, increasing the total count by 45 percent to over 12,600, and enabling Smart to improve its Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage, as well as to activate LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which offers even higher data speeds and capacity.
Aside from rolling out LTE and LTE-A across the country’s main urban hub Metro Manila, Smart has also successfully fired up LTE and LTE-A as far north as Batanes, Sagada, and Cagayan, as well as in Palawan, Sorsogon, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Davao, and Sarangani, to name a few.
With this rollout, Smart is on track to fulfill its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to provide high-speed wireless data services in over 90 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.
As of end-June, PLDT has likewise increased the coverage of its fiber-power fixed broadband network to 5.07 million homes passed and boosted its capacity to 1.86 million ports, nearing its full-year target of 2.2 million ports.
Underpinning PLDT and Smart’s fixed and mobile network roll-out was the expansion of PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network. In the first half of 2018, PLDT increased its fiber footprint to 204,000 kilometers, rolling out over 29,000 kilometers of fiber cable further increasing the reach, capacity, and resiliency of PLDT’s fiber network. These expansion projects greatly enhance Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.
Data/broadband and digital services continued to be the main growth drivers for all three business segments Home, Individual Wireless, and Enterprise accounting for P39.6 billion in revenues, 54 percent of first half of 2018 total service revenues.
“We have crossed an important threshold now that our data and digital services generate more than half of our total service revenues. Moving forward, our task is to accelerate our digital pivot by pursuing whenever possible converged digital initiatives across our business segments – Home, Individual Wireless, and Enterprise,” said Ernesto Alberto, executive vice president, and chief revenue officer of PLDT and Smart.
Smart’s wireless rollout includes the 700 MHz band for wider coverage and improved indoor penetration, and the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands for additional capacity. Alongside its LTE and LTE-A deployment, Smart has also increased the number of 3G base stations on its network to over 10,400.
In addition to network upgrades, Smart is also working with device manufacturers to make more LTE and LTE-A-capable devices available in the market. As shown by the experience of other countries, the network roll-out must be accompanied by the adoption of LTE and LTE-A-capable mobile phones and devices so that more people can enjoy the improved service.