PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) is set to complete its Long Term Evolution (LTE) expansion in Negros Occidental, particularly in Bacolod City.
More than 90% of cell sites in Bacolod City now have LTE. Besides the network upgrade in the capital, Smart mobile customers can also experience LTE in other parts of Negros Occidental like Bago City, Binalbagan, Cadiz City, Himamaylan, Kabankalan, Talisay, Victorias, Hinigaran, Ilog, Isabela, La Carlota City, Manapla, Murcia, Pontevedra, Pulupandan, San Carlos City, San Enrique, Silay and Valladolid.
“With this wider coverage of Smart LTE in Bacolod City and other parts of Negros Occidental, locals and tourists can enjoy better mobile data experience when they connect to Facebook, watch videos on YouTube, play online games, or search the internet for tourism spots in the province,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.
Better income and productivity
In the case of Riclos Ilasos, a Smart load retailer at the Bacolod South Bus Terminal, these network improvements mean a better income for him and his family.
“Our customers prefer to buy Smart because it has faster internet speeds and better coverage here in Bacolod,” he says. “Before we started selling Smart, we were only making a small amount of money. Now, we get to take home around P1,500 to P2,000 every day just from selling load to passengers, drivers, and passers-by,” he added.
Meanwhile, former OFW Vinnie Yu has been managing her husband’s store for a few months now, and she has observed that the improved services of Smart in Bacolod have resulted in more or less P3,000 in sales from Smart load and other products alone.
Yu says the improved LTE coverage has encouraged their customers to buy more load and promos like Gigasurf, from their store every day.
“If the signal is strong, we can attract more customers. When they see improvement, they tend to buy more load. I hope Smart will keep it up and continue improving so we can get more customers,” said Yu.
Aside from the strong LTE network, Negros bag producer and businesswoman Kitkat Lobaton also uses Smart’s reliable mobile signal and unlimited call and text promos to keep in touch with her staff every day.
“We use Smart to communicate with my staff, with the production team and the weavers in the farm. The signal in the farm — in Victorias — is good, so we can call them every time we need something from them, to give instructions,” said Lobaton.
Level up to LTE
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 SIMs are 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 by going to any Smart Store or 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.
Smart also has fired up LTE sites in Batanes, Sagada, Puerto Princesa, Sarangani, Cebu, Kalibo in Aklan, Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Roxas City in Capiz, Tacloban, Ormoc, Jordan in Guimaras, Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Catbalogan City in Samar and Maasin City in Southern Leyte, among others.
As of end-September, Smart has equipped over 5,600 base stations across the country with LTE, not only to expand LTE coverage but also to lay the ground for LTE-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with LTE-compatible smartphones. This puts the total count of LTE base stations at almost 14,400.
As a result of these upgrades, Smart continues to lead in terms of LTE download speeds, according to OpenSignal’s latest Mobile Networks Update.
The report, which covers the months of May to July this year, showed Smart LTE download speeds ahead nationwide at 13.09 Mbps (vs competitor’s 7.34 Mbps), as well as across all measured areas: at 15.24 Mbps in National Capital Region (vs. 8.43 Mbps); 13.48 Mbps in North Central Luzon (vs. 6.02 Mbps); 10.59 Mbps in South Luzon (vs 6.47 Mbps); 10.49 Mbps in the Visayas (vs 7.42 Mbps); and 12.23 Mbps in Mindanao (vs 6.95 Mbps). Smart also has lower 3G and 4G latency at 98.28ms and 53.48ms, respectively.
Earlier this year, OpenSignal also awarded Smart for having the fastest LTE network and gave it four citations: Best in 4G LTE download speed; Best in overall download speed; Best 4G latency performance; and Best 3G latency performance.
Underpinning PLDT and Smart’s fixed and mobile network roll-out was the expansion of PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network. PLDT’s fiber footprint, now the most extensive in the country at 221,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.