Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bicolanos seen to benefit from PLDT-Smart rollout of LTE on 700 MHz frequency
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 6 (PNA) -- Bicolano Internet users will soon enjoy a low-band, high-value frequency that will allow wireless services leader Smart Communications to deliver faster Internet service.

Smart will start using this year the 700 MHz frequency as part of the accelerated deployment of its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) service, in order to more quickly deliver faster, more reliable and affordable Internet services throughout the country.

“Our strategy has two legs. First is the network. Deploying LTE on 700 MHz combines a powerful frequency with the most advanced mobile phone technology,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor, said in a statement sent to the Philippines News Agency Monday morning.

Combined with other frequency bands, LTE on 700 MHz will help expand the coverage and enhance the capacity of Smart's data network at a faster pace, Horn added.

“Second are the devices. We have been holding discussions with device manufacturers so that more affordable LTE smartphones and tablets using 700 MHz will soon be available in the country. This combination of advanced network and devices will enable us to provide the best digital experience to our customers across the country,” he said.

The low-band 700 MHz has a longer range and provides better indoor coverage than high band frequencies.

Smart gained access to this and other additional frequencies when Smart’s parent company PLDT recently acquired 50 percent of the telecoms business of San Miguel Corp.

LTE is the fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone technology that currently provides the fastest wireless data service commercially available.

About 45 percent of the subscribers of PLDT’s wireless brands Smart and Sun are now using smartphones, up from only 30 percent last year.

The majority of these are 3G/HSPA handsets, but the number of LTE handsets is rising fast as the range of available models increases and the handset prices decline.

“As LTE devices become more affordable and accessible, we are at the same time stepping up our efforts to deploy our LTE service using the most efficient set of frequencies,” Horn added.

Smart is currently in the middle of a three-year network improvement program that includes a number of simultaneous initiatives, he said.

One activity aims to synergize the mobile phone networks of Smart and Sun in order to improve the coverage and service quality for subscribers of both brands.

Another initiative is expand the rollout of Smart’s 3G and 4G services.

Smart’s drive to boost data coverage and capacity across the country forms a major part of the PLDT Group’s capital expenditure program.

The PLDT has set aside about PHP43 billion in total capital expenditure for 2016 and has allocated an additional USD100 million to utilize the additional frequencies now available to Smart as a result of the recent acquisition of San Miguel telecoms business. (PNA) FFC/FGS/CBD