Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

Stronger signal improves life in mountain barangays of Cebu City

From being able to quickly call for emergency vehicles to bring patients to bigger hospitals to being able to receive orders for flowers, residents of Barangay Guba and Bonbon in…

From being able to quickly call for emergency vehicles to bring patients to bigger hospitals to being able to receive orders for flowers, residents of Barangay Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City say their lives have improved with the stronger cellphone signal in their area.

The two mountain barangays that are an hour’s drive from the central Cebu City business district now have better connectivity after Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) turned on 2 4G LTE cell sites in the area.

With the improved signal coverage, residents can now tap mobile services to improve their lives and boost their livelihood and businesses. Vital facilities like schools and hospitals also benefitted from the improved connection.

Smart LTE Cebu City

IMPROVED SPEEDS. The connectivity in Barangay Bonbon, a mountain barangay in Cebu City.

 

Emergency communications

Fr. Peter Necesario, parish priest of St. Niño Parish in Guba, said that with stronger signal, they no longer feel isolated, especially during emergencies.

“In times of emergencies such as storms, it is easier for us to communicate and be updated about the weather through the internet,” Fr. Necesario said.

He added that Guba is a strategically located barangay with a community hospital and church, so communications is very important.

Resident Gemma Sandigan, 40, said that the better mobile phone service helps them address the needs of the community, especially on health care. Her father was the former head of Guba Community Hospital. Since the community hospital is small, it can’t cater to complex medical procedures and has to refer patients to bigger hospitals. However, there are times when no vehicles are available to transport the patients.

LTE Cebu City

LTE CONNECTION. The improved connectivity allows residents of Barangays Guba and Bonbon to tap online services like live streaming of community events.

 

Contact family members

“With better signal, we can call for vehicles and ask for help in transferring patients to bigger hospitals faster,” Gemma said.

The activation of 2 new cell sites is part of a larger rollout plan covering several more mountain barangays of Cebu City at the request of Mayor Tomas Osmeña. The city government plans to deploy new services for these communities that require improved mobile phone coverage and data services.

For Gemma’s mother, 62-year-old Emerlisa Veloso, the benefits are personal. She is thankful for the stronger signal because she can now contact her children who work away from home.

“Before, we really have to get out of the house just to get signal. Now, we can just stay indoors to contact my children. This is a huge help,” Veloso said.

In terms of education, better signal also means improved learning.

Research, school work

For 14-year-old Grade 8 student Faith Mae P. Tabal, communication with teachers and classmates for school-related activities has become easier, now that she can use LTE for research and other school work.

In Barangay Bonbon, meanwhile, farmers are reaping the benefits of good signal and data connection.

Flower farmer Donyo Tapia, 71, said that the better Smart signal has helped him a lot with his flower deliveries.

“Stronger signal is a huge help. They (customers) can just call us when they order flowers. Even if we don’t have the flowers, we can still look for them,” he said.

Tapia also said they have the phone numbers to the local market and the customers can now call them for orders anytime and anywhere.

LTE in Guba, Bonbon, Cebu City

STRONGER CONNECTION. The new LTE connectivity allows students in Barangays Guba and Bonbon to use the internet to research and to link up with family, friends, and classmates.

 

Strong signal anywhere

“We can make sure to deliver flowers immediately, especially rush orders, now that the signal is stronger. Unlike before when we still have to go to higher places just to look for signal. It was hard. Now the signal is very strong anywhere,” he added.

Another thankful resident of Barangay Bonbon is 50-year-old micro-entrepreneur Marites Cabos. Upon experiencing stronger signal for calls and LTE for mobile data, she now sells Smart SIM cards in her store.

“Before we didn’t have network signal from Smart, now we finally have it. We are very thankful because this is a huge help for us here in Bonbon, especially because our children live far away. Now I am also a retailer here because the signal is faster. The LTE data (signal) is now very fast here in Bonbon,” she said.

Over 80% of cell sites across Cebu now have LTE.

This continuous expansion of LTE services across Cebu is part of efforts to provide the best mobile data experience across the country.

LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.

In Cebu, major cities like Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City already have LTE-A sites.

LTE in Guba and Bonbon

IMPROVED LIVES. The stronger Smart signal in Barangays Guba and Bonbon have improved the lives of people in the community.

 

Award-winning network

Smart has also already fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access within three years from the grant of the use of frequencies by the NTC in 2016.

Smart has increased its total LTE base station count across the country by 65% in the first three quarters of 2018. PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network, the country’s most extensive fiber network at 221,000 kilometers, meanwhile, provides high-capacity fiber connections for these LTE base stations.

For these continuous network upgrade efforts, both PLDT and Smart have been cited by third party firms for being the country’s fastest networks. Earlier this year, PLDT and Smart were cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. Mobile analytics firm OpenSignal has also consistently cited Smart for having the country’s fastest LTE network for its past four study rounds.

Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex was expected to reach P58 billion.

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50% of data traffic to come from LTE network by yearend: Globe

With the steady expansion of the company’s LTE coverage and capacities to improve customers’ mobile experience, Globe Telecom expects around 50% of its mobile data traffic to come from LTE…

With the steady expansion of the company’s LTE coverage and capacities to improve customers’ mobile experience, Globe Telecom expects around 50% of its mobile data traffic to come from LTE network by the end of the year.

Mobile data traffic in the first six months of the year soared 85% to 280 petabytes (PB) from 151 PB in the first six months of last year, amid steady increase in smartphone penetration, currently estimated at around 67% of total mobile subscribers.

Currently, about 43% of the company’s data traffic comes from its LTE network. The company is on an aggressive deployment of LTE sites following its commitment to improve the mobile internet experience in the country, said Joel Agustin, Globe Senior Vice President for Program Governance, Network Technical Group.

Globe LTE sites

Globe now has close to 5,000 LTE sites all over the country, using the 700 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz frequencies. It targets to increase this by more than 600 sites by the end of the year, Agustin said.

“Over the years, Globe has been continuously upgrading its network infrastructure and capacities to make us future-ready in anticipation of our customers’ bandwidth requirement. As our LTE network is steadily becoming more and more pervasive, more and more people transacting in LTE will have improve mobile data experience compared to 3G,” Agustin said.

According to him, a significant number of Globe customers are on LTE devices but are using 3G SIMs while many others are using LTE SIMs but are on 3G devices.

Switch to LTE SIM

“We want to encourage our customers especially those that are already using LTE devices to migrate to the LTE network by switching to a LTE SIM for better mobile experience,” he added. Since January this year, Globe has already migrated around 900,000 of customers using LTE devices but were still using a 3G SIM, he said.

He emphasized that migration to LTE network spells a big difference in terms of customer experience as the network provides superior streaming of multi-media content even as they are on the go. The company’s LTE sites are located mostly in Metro Manila and other highly-populated areas, where majority of customers using LTE-based handsets are located.

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Smart mobile data speeds take lead in PH: JP Morgan

‘Significant momentum’ seen for Smart LTE, 3G speeds, according to JP Morgan PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications posted the highest average download speeds for both 3G and LTE, amid steadily…

‘Significant momentum’ seen for Smart LTE, 3G speeds, according to JP Morgan

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications posted the highest average download speeds for both 3G and LTE, amid steadily improving scores through the months, the latest JP Morgan study showed.

JP Morgan’s Asia Network Quality study, which cited crowd-sourced data gathered by wireless coverage research firm OpenSignal, showed Smart LTE service leading nationwide in terms of speed, with average download speeds of 11.64 Mbps on the country level.

The May 2017 report also showed Smart leading across areas in terms of LTE service, with average download speeds of 12.52 Mbps in Metro Manila, 11.96 Mbps in the Visayas and 9.44 Mbps in South Luzon.

Significant momentum

“PLDT’s Smart has significant momentum across all circles measured. This likely implies a higher likelihood of market share gains going forward, with potentially better pricing power,” said JP Morgan in its study, which covers the months of February to April.

Smart also led in terms of 3G speeds nationwide, posting 2.29 Mbps average download speeds on a country level. Across areas, average download speeds on Smart’s 3G service were at 3.41 Mbps in Metro Manila, 1.74 Mbps in the Visayas, and 1.82 Mbps in South Luzon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but these test results show that our network improvement program is making progress. They are a testament to Smart’s commitment to continuously contribute to improving overall speeds in the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.

Re-equipping cell sites

Smart is re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage. It is also deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle more calls, texts, and ever-increasing mobile data traffic.

PLDT and Smart have committed to make LTE progressively available to 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.

“We have ongoing network improvements in Metro Manila, and we look forward to providing our subscribers there with better indoor LTE and 3G data signal, as well as better indoor 3G and 2G voice signal once these activities are done,” he said.

“With these improvements, our subscribers can live their digital lifestyles to the fullest, using a combination of LTE-ready devices, Smart LTE SIMs and Smart’s newest and fastest network, and be there like never before,” Tamayo added.

“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we are upgrading our network facilities. We assure you that we are taking steps to minimize the impact of these activities on our subscribers. In the end, our commitment to all our subscribers is that they will enjoy progressively better mobile data services in the next few months, particularly for those using LTE devices,” he said.

Average LTE speeds

Recent internal tests have shown improvements in speed in areas involved in the ongoing network rollout. Average LTE download speeds in northern Metro Manila, for example, are at 22.2 Mbps, while speeds are at 14.5 Mbps on average using Smart’s LTE service in southern Metro Manila. In Cebu, on the other hand, average download speeds on Smart’s LTE service are at 20.7 Mbps.

For these network improvement efforts, Smart was also recently named Digital Service Provider of the Year at the Asia Communication Awards, which recognizes outstanding performance by Asian carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers.

This comprehensive network modernization and expansion program is at the core of the PLDT group’s digital pivot. Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of P42.8 billion for 2016, which included the utilization of the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets. PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan has announced a total capital expenditure of P46 billion this year. (Press Release)

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LTE, 3G speeds significantly up in Metro Cebu

The nationwide network modernization program of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), the mobile unit of PLDT, Inc., is in full swing and recent field tests in Metro Cebu are showing impressive…

The nationwide network modernization program of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), the mobile unit of PLDT, Inc., is in full swing and recent field tests in Metro Cebu are showing impressive LTE and 3G speeds in the Visayas region’s premier urban hub.

Internal field tests conducted in key areas in and around Metro Cebu have shown that download speeds on Smart’s LTE service have jumped at least 146% to 19.7 Mbps and have reached up to 52 Mbps in certain areas like Cordova, while upload speeds have also risen by 134% to 14.3 Mbps.

Download speeds on Smart’s 3G service, on the other hand, are also up 275% to 6 Mbps, while upload speeds likewise improved 45% to 1.6 Mbps.

LTE speeds in Metro Cebu

LTE speeds exceeding 20 Mbps have been recorded in both indoor and outdoor areas around Metro Cebu.

LTE speeds of more than 24 Mbps were recorded in SM Seaside Mountain Wing and Banilad Road in Cebu City, while speeds in excess of 37 Mbps were reached in Jollibee Minglanilla.

LTE speeds above 21 Mbps were also posted in tourist-favorite Lantaw Native Restaurant in Mactan and at the Mactan International Airport, while LTE reached speeds of 47 Mbps in Brgy. Tingub in Mandaue City.

Magellan’s Cross. Speeds exceeding 20 Mbps were recorded at Magellan’s Cross using LTE-capable handsets.

Carrier aggregation, LTE-Advanced

On the other hand, speeds in excess of 90 Mbps have also been achieved in and around the Minglanilla Sports Complex, using carrier aggregation (CA) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)-capable handsets.

Carrier aggregation refers to the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.

“We are accelerating the rollout of LTE because it provides an immediate significant boost to the speed, quality and reliability of our service. Moreover, it lays the foundation for the rollout of LTE-A with CA and puts us in a position to further improve internet service as more handsets capable of CA become available in the market,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart.

Just initial results

“These are just initial results, and we are already nearing the midpoint of our implementation in Metro Cebu,” Horn added.

“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we make changes in our network facilities. These activities are being done during the most inactive hours of the day, and we are putting systems in place to minimize the impact on our subscribers. In the end, our commitment to all our subscribers is that they will enjoy progressively better mobile data services in the next few months, particularly for those using LTE devices,” said Horn.

These improvements were brought about by an increase in 3G and LTE base stations in Metro Cebu, which are up by 16% and 108%, respectively. As a result, data volume traffic on 3G and LTE have also increased, according to network monitoring data.

Fast, reliable network

“In upgrading mobile and data services in Metro Cebu, we are helping improve the quality of life in one of the country’s biggest provinces, where millions work and play,” said Horn.

Metro Cebu is home to more than 2.8 million Filipinos, while passenger arrivals at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport hit nearly 9 million last year. It is also the country’s largest outsourcing destination outside of Metro Manila.

“This progress in Metro Cebu is just a preview of what Smart will be rolling out to the rest of the island and the rest of the country—a fast and reliable mobile data network for all Smart subscribers,” Horn added.

Nationwide expansion program

This is part of Smart’s nationwide network expansion and overhaul program to improve both coverage and quality of service, particularly its LTE service. Earlier, Smart already completed its network overhaul program in Boracay and Metro Davao, where users have already reported improved quality of LTE services.

A major leg of this network expansion is also currently underway in and around Metro Manila, where it is likewise expected to significantly boost Smart’s voice, SMS, and mobile data services, specially its indoor LTE coverage.

The fruits of the Metro Manila rollout can now be felt in nearby Rizal, where Smart’s average LTE download speeds jumped 455% to 23.3 Mbps, and average 3G download speeds rose by 37% to 3.7 Mbps, on the back of significant increases in the number of LTE and 3G base stations in the province.

Redemptorist Church. LTE-capable handsets were also able to post download speeds as high as 36 Mbps outside Redemptorist Church.

Acceleration of LTE deployment

Network improvement activities in Metro Cebu include re-equipping cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz, 850 MHz, and 900 MHz for its LTE and 3G services. These frequency bands travel farther than high-frequency bands thus providing mobile data services better coverage, including indoors.

Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of parent company PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of $1 billion for 2016, with an additional $100 million allocated to utilize the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets.

In the three-year network roll-out plan that PLDT submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last July, Smart said it is focused on accelerating its LTE deployment, to make it progressively available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

LTE, an all-IP network, delivers superior experience for users, particularly for data. It can also be quickly upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers who are using LTE SIMs on LTE-capable handsets.

Bandwidth-heavy services

Smart began rolling out its LTE-A service in April 2016 in preparation for the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming and gaming. Initially rolled out in Boracay, Smart’s LTE-A service delivers peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable smartphones.

“The Smart network modernization program is a key part of the PLDT Group’s massive nationwide effort to roll out superior and reliable fixed and mobile networks for the delivery of a wide range of content and gigabit digital solutions. Through the group’s superior telecommunication networks, PLDT and Smart will deliver impressive customer experience,” said Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Chief Corporate Services Officer at PLDT and Smart. (Press Release)

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