Smart ramps up LTE rollout in Mindanao in time for the digital Tuna Festival

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has accelerated the rollout of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced Network in Mindanao. This comes just in time for the celebration of the Tuna Festival, which is shifting to digital this year amid the new normal brought about by the pandemic.

The technology ramp-up will cover not just the company’s network in General Santos City, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines where the Tuna Festival is being held from August 29 to September 15, but also in surrounding provinces in the SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat) region.

More than 90% of Smart’s cell sites in the region are already on LTE. Aside from expanding its LTE reach, the company is also raising the capacity of its LTE sites through the deployment of additional LTE base stations, a move that increased the count in the region by about 40% this year alone.

“Our continuing investments in expanding and upgrading our network infrastructure nationwide is proof of our commitment to keep improving customer experience across the country,” said PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering Mario G. Tamayo.

“By making LTE more available and increasing our network capacity, our customers in General Santos City and other areas in the region can use our network to stay connected with loved ones, access online learning platforms, work remotely, and run their businesses from the safety of their homes, especially in the new normal,” he added.

All major activities of the Tuna Festival will be streamed live via the TNT official Facebook page. TNT subscribers can enjoy and share all the online activities through TNT Free Stories For All.

Nationwide LTE ramp-up

Nationwide, the PLDT wireless subsidiary has actively been deploying LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation (CA) technology to improve the mobile internet experience of its customers. A key feature of LTE-A, CA allows the combination of two or more radio frequency bands to deliver much faster data speeds to smartphone users.

Smart is set to further increase the number of its LTE sites this year to increase the availability of the service to more municipalities. To date, its 4G/LTE and 3G services facilitate high-speed mobile internet connection to more than 93% of the country and about 95% of the population.


Infrastructure investments

As the only fully integrated telecoms and digital services provider in the country, PLDT and Smart have jointly sustained network investments to about P260 million (from 2015 to 2019). The network increased the number of its LTE base stations by 10% in the first half of 2020 compared to its number in 2019.

Smart also increased the capacity of its LTE network through reallocating assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to4G/LTE. Consequently, 3,785 Smart base stations now provide additional capacity for its LTE network. Moreover, the company has also been installing 5G-capable equipment for easier and faster deployment of 5G service in more areas in the country.