PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is increasing its lead in LTE/4G speeds nationwide, according to crowd-sourced data gathered by wireless coverage research firm OpenSignal.
The latest OpenSignal results, which covered the months of September to November, showed that Smart has established what it called “clear leadership” in LTE/4G across the country, with nationwide average LTE download speeds of 11.7 Mbps (vs. 7.3 Mbps for that of the competitor).
Smart also led across all measured areas, with 13.2 Mbps in National Capital Region (NCR)/Metro Manila, 7.7 Mbps in the Visayas, and 12.1 Mbps in South Luzon, compared with its competitor which, based on the results, registered speeds of 8.2 Mbps, 6.8 Mbps and 6.3 Mbps, respectively.
“The latest OpenSignal results show that our investments in and focus on network improvement are bearing fruit. The continuous expansion of our LTE and 3G networks is bringing a better experience to our customers across the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.
“By continuing to lead the way in bringing better, world-class mobile internet connectivity to the Philippines, PLDT and Smart are able to offer a wider array of digital services and life solutions, as well as make the best video, social media and gaming experience more accessible to our customers,” said Eric R. Alberto, PLDT Group Chief Revenue Officer.
Big improvements in coverage
In terms of coverage, the latest results showed significant improvements in both 3G and LTE availability, with double-digit year-on-year improvements registered for LTE coverage in Metro Manila, Southern Luzon and the Visayas. Nationwide, Smart’s LTE availability improved from 35.86% in the January 2017 report to 58.07%, the report said.
In parallel, 3G coverage also improved across the areas measured, with nationwide 3G availability improving from 67.89% to 74.45%.
“Compared to last year, the OpenSignal report says Smart has more than doubled its lead in LTE speeds across all areas, while improvements across regions have also been noted in terms of 3G speeds as a result of our extensive network improvement efforts,” Tamayo added.
The OpenSignal results were corroborated by recent internal tests, which showed better download speeds in Southern Luzon. Median download speeds of 18.5 Mbps were posted in Quezon province, while speeds of 17.1 Mbps were recorded in Batangas.
In Metro Manila, recent internal tests in Parañaque, for example, recorded median LTE download speeds of 17.9 Mbps, while median download speeds of 27.6 Mbps were posted in Caloocan. In Taguig, Smart LTE posted median download speeds of 18.6 Mbps.
LTE speeds in Cebu, meanwhile, averaged 24 Mbps, while LTE speeds in Davao were at 34 Mbps on average, also based on recent internal tests.
Fastest LTE in the country
In 2016, Smart started to deploy LTE in multiple frequencies including low band spectrum such as 700 MHz, initially in Boracay and in Metro Davao. This accelerated LTE deployment has enabled Smart to also roll-out LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which allows for even greater speeds and capacity through its capability called Carrier Aggregation (CA).
CA allows for the combination two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.
At the beginning of the year, Smart announced that it was further boosting LTE speeds in the country by rolling out LTE-A in more areas of the country. This includes the deployment of four-component (4CC) carrier aggregation, which features the combination of four separate spectrum bands.
Last year, Smart’s LTE and 3G expansion program initially covered Metro Cebu, Rizal and Metro Manila and has since proceeded to other parts of the country. This has been complemented by a 3G rollout in several frequency bands as well. As a result, the company expects to fulfill ahead of schedule its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover over 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile broadband using LTE and 3G by 2019.
LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable, and reliable internet services to as many customers as possible.