Starting in late 2011, Smart replaced the radio equipment in 9,500 base stations with next-generation facilities that have increased its network’s capacity to handle voice, text messaging, and mobile broadband services.
“Every single base station of Smart is now easily upgradeable to fourth-generation technologies like HSPA+ and LTE,” said Smart president and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno. “This enables us to offer high-speed mobile broadband in many more parts of the country.”
LTE is short-hand for Long Term Evolution which is widely touted as the next generation of high-speed wireless broadband technologies capable of providing data speeds of up to 100 mbps and beyond. Smart has been deploying LTE on a test basis since last year and has been gearing up to offer it as a commercial service.
“In the next few months, Smart will move on to the next phase of its network modernization program, and this will include among others introducing new billing and customer management systems,” said Orlando B. Vea, Smart’s chief wireless adviser.
“Our goal is to make simple and easy for our customers to use our unmatched network infrastructure through innovative and flexible service packages and superior customer service,” he added.
Originally scheduled for completion in 2013, the overhaul of Smart’s cellular network is part of the P67-billion network modernization program of the PLDT Group. The program has been fast-tracked in anticipation of increased demand for mobile services, particularly wireless broadband. “The modernization program is not just an upgrade of our physical network equipment. We are investing heavily in our support systems and personnel re-training. That is why we refer to the program as a ‘technology refresh’,” said Nazareno. Included in the modernization program are the installation of Multi Standard Radios which allow for push-button activation of the latest services and energy-efficient base stations which consume less electricity and take up less space.
Smart’s infrastructure build up is also being complemented by network investments of parent company, PLDT.
PLDT has completed the installation of over 50,000 kilometers of fiber optic cabling, covering the entire country in several loop configurations that provide increased resiliency and has set up Multi Standard Radios which allow for push-button activation of the latest services on demand and the laying of over 50,000 kilometers of fiber optic cabling in looped configuration for unparalleled resiliency.
PLDT recently started operating its third international undersea cable landing station in Daet, Camarines Norte. PLDT has two other landing stations – one in Nasugbu, Batangas and the other in San Fernando, La Union – giving its international communications and internet services unmatched resiliency. “PLDT and Smart are now ready for the next chapter of telecommunications,” said PLDT-Smart Network and IP Systems Head Rolando G. Peña. “With our enhanced networks, we can offer world class services to Filipinos such as Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and Long Term Evolution,” he added. PLDT has started to deploy on a commercial basis FTTH services in selected areas of Metro Manila. Fiber offers data connection speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Smart has been actively testing its LTE network since April 2011. It conducted extensive LTE beta testing from November 2011 to March 2012 with the help of over 120 participants from different sectors of society and was demoed in several festivals including the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City and the Araw ng Dabaw in Davao City.