Increased Coverage: Smart LTE powers Palawan’s Baragatan Festival

Smart Communications Logo

Tourists and residents of Palawan can now stay connected while on business or vacation as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. has rolled out Long Term Evolution (LTE) across the province.

This year, Smart plans to increase the number LTE sites in Palawan, starting with its capital Puerto Princesa, where initial internal tests in areas including the Puerto Princesa airport and Honda Bay showed LTE download speeds of between 12 to 60 Mbps.

“With our ramped-up rollout across Palawan, travelers from all over can now enjoy world-class connectivity in one of the country’s premier tourist destinations,” said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering for PLDT and Smart.

“Using our LTE network now in place, they can stay in touch with their loved ones via video calls or share their videos of the province’s sights and sounds on social media while on-the-go, especially in time for the upcoming Baragatan Festival, which showcases the best of the province,” Tamayo added. This year’s Baragatan marks the 116th anniversary of the founding of the provincial civil government.

Apart from sharing videos on social media, Smart, Sun, and TNT prepaid customers can also enjoy up to one hour of free access to YouTube every day until July 15, as long as they are registered to select promos including GigaSurf99, AllOutSurf99, GigaSurf 50, AllOutSurf 30, Panalo Data 30, Panalo Combo 30, Super Combo 20, and Big Time Data 70. This offer is also available to Smart and Sun postpaid customers, while Sun Fixed Load Plans users simply have to register to select load buckets to enjoy the daily treat.

Level Up To LTE during Baragatan

To fully enjoy the improved Smart LTE network, customers are encouraged to upgrade to an LTE-capable smartphone and an LTE SIM.

Smart Prepaid and Smart Postpaid customers can check if their SIM is LTE-ready by texting SIMCHECK to 5832 for free.

Smart, TNT and Sun customers can also easily upgrade to an LTE SIM without changing their existing number through an LTE-Ready Self-Service Upgrade SIM, which is available for P10 at Smart loading partners nationwide, with free 1GB data valid for three days upon upgrading.

Starting June 15, customers can also visit the Smart sales booths during the Baragatan celebrations to upgrade their SIMs for free, avail themselves of discounted LTE smartphones and learn more about Smart LTE.

Ramped-up rollout

Driven by increased data use among customers in Puerto Princesa, now that the upgraded network is now in place in the city, Palawan has also posted month-on-month growth in sales over the last six months.

Puerto Princesa is just one of many high-traffic areas where Smart has already deployed LTE. Recently, Smart also fired up LTE in the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes, bringing better mobile data experience to tourists and residents traveling through the picturesque islands.

It also launched LTE in tourist-popular Sagada in Mountain Province in April, when Sagada elders and PLDT and Smart officials joined forces to inaugurate Smart’s cell site in the town. Since the launch, tourists hiking through Sagada’s popular sights, such as Marlboro Country, Blue Soil Hills and Hanging Coffins, can upload their photos, update their social media, and keep in touch with family via messaging apps in real time.

Tourists in Sarangani who took part in the recent SarBay Festival were also able to enjoy better connection with Smart’s newly launched LTE-A in the area and use it during the festivities.

“This is part of Smart’s broader effort to deliver world-class internet service to every corner of the country. Now that our sites are up in areas like Puerto Princesa, Basco, Sagada and Sarangani, we will be able to serve our customers better, wherever they may be,” Tamayo added.

Historic capex

In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Smart installed more than 1,300 LTE base stations, raising the total count to more than 10,000. This year, Smart plans to double the number of LTE base stations on its network to about 17,700 and raise the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to 6,800.

Parent company PLDT is committing historic levels of resources to support network transformation. This year, capex is expected to reach P58 billion, and will likely stay at that level over the next two years, bringing the Group’s total capex to nearly P260 billion since it embarked on its network and IT transformation programs in 2016. This is in addition to the nearly P175 billion that PLDT has invested in network building from 2011 to 2015.