Smart Communications has activated nearly 200 new cell sites across the country, bringing to 2,221 the total number of sites now using the 1800 MHz frequency covered by a co-use agreement with the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
By activating these cell sites, located in 656 cities and municipalities in 73 provinces of the country, Smart has enhanced the ability of its GSM or 2G network to handle more calls and text messages, particularly in dense urban areas in Metro Manila, North Luzon, South Luzon, in the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Smart has switched on additional facilities using the 1800 MHz frequency in 262 cell sites in Metro Manila, 883 in North Luzon, 679 in South Luzon, 116 in the Visayas, and 281 in Mindanao, improving the mobile phone experience of the roughly 70 million Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers nationwide.
Smart is also rapidly deploying the 700 MHz frequency to strengthen its mobile data service throughout the country, particularly via LTE (Long-Term Evolution). LTE is the fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone technology that currently provides the fastest wireless data service commercially available.
To date, Smart has fired up eight LTE cell sites using the 700 MHz spectrum. Five of these cell sites are in Davao City, with one each in Tanay, Rizal; Bacoor, Cavite; and Manggahan area in Pasig City. Smart is also in the process of ordering the equipment, and fortifying the capacity of its transmission and other network elements, in order to support the deployment of the 700 MHz.
The low-band 700 MHz has a longer range and better indoor penetration, allowing Smart to improve the experience of LTE users, and expand the coverage and enhance the capacity of its data network not only in the urban centers but also in rural areas, and at a much faster pace.
Meanwhile, Smart’s additional bandwidth in the 2300 and 2600 MHz frequencies will provide the required capacity to handle current and future high-speed data traffic.
Smart plans to activate 360 LTE cell sites with 700 MHz this year, initially in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, to bring LTE service to nearly 40% of the country’s cities and municipalities by end-2016. Smart is also working with device manufacturers to push more 4G/LTE handsets out in the market, to give more users access to the high-speed mobile data network being put in place.
Smart gained access to the 700, 900, 1800, 2300, and 2600 radio frequencies previously assigned to SMC, under the co-use agreement approved by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) when Smart’s parent company PLDT acquired the SMC telecom business.