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Community Tech

Smart LTE up in more mountain sites in Cebu

More mountain barangays are now enjoying fast, reliable, and affordable mobile internet connection with the activation of Smart Communications Inc. LTE cell sites. The latest is Barangay Linut-od, 24 kilometers from the Argao town center in Cebu, or about an hour by motorcycle on rough road.

Improved connectivity is boosting livelihood, community efficiency and the general wellbeing of residents of this farming and coal mining village.

Seventy percent of households have members living elsewhere, and residents had to move from one place to another in search of a signal just to keep in touch, said former Argao Mayor Stanley Caminero. “So, when Smart fired up its new LTE cell site, people were ecstatic!”

LTE NOW AVAILABLE. LTE is finally in Linut-od, Argao after Smart fired up their LTE cell site in the mountain barangay. Leading the ceremony to mark the availability are former mayor Stanley Caminero (3rd from left) and Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, AVP and Center Head of SMART Public Affairs Visayas and Mindanao.

Contact family members

Among them were farmer Luciano Zamora and wife Lorenza, who see their three grown children only on special occasions. “We are thankful that now the signal is strong even up here in the mountains. We can contact our children anytime, and we don’t even have to leave the house,” said Luciano. It is a comforting thought, in case of an emergency, he added.

Now the couple even get to see their grandchildren, by making video calls using smartphones provided by their children, along with an “allowance” of credit load.

Farmers like Zamora are also learning to search the internet for new and better farming methods, Caminero said. Improved connectivity could also help boost upland tourism through social media, he added.

With better connectivity, families in Linut-od can stay in touch with relatives working far away.

Information dissemination

Councilor Resurreccion Gonzaga of barangay Cabantug said the new technology helps facilitates information dissemination and processing of documents, thus improving efficiency of local government units.

Aside from Linut-od, Smart has also fired up LTE sites in the mountain barangays of Colawin in Argao, and Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City.

LTE can be quickly upgraded 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.

Better connectivity also means peace of mind for Linut-od residents, who can easily contact family especially in times of emergencies.

Fiber backbone

To date, Smart has 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 in the country. Supporting Smart’s mobile network is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, now extending over 259,000 kilometers.

PLDT and Smart’s nationwide network transformation efforts are backed by a historic-high capital expenditure of P78.4 billion this year. The capex investments are to further expand coverage and to increase capacity to handle the exponential growth in data traffic, with the ultimate aim of delivering the best data customer experience.

Linut-od residents can use this improved connectivity to stream videos online and share photos via social media.

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Tech

Smart fires up LTE in Eastern Visayas

PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. is ramping up the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology across the Eastern Visayas to improve the mobile data experience of customers in one of the country’s biggest regions.

Smart LTE is already available across the region’s major cities of Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, and was recently fired up in the Eastern Samar capital city of Borongan, the tourist town of Guiuan, Northern Samar capital of Catarman City, and Western Samar cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan.

For veteran Borongan-based broadcast journalist Daisy Belizar, better connectivity would be a boon to her city, where almost all of the families have at least one member working abroad. “With LTE in Borongan, we will now be connected to the rest of the world,” she said.

LTE-Advanced

This year, Smart will continue upgrading all its Eastern Visayas sites to LTE, as well as add more LTE capacity by deploying multi-band base stations. Doing so will enable Smart to cater to more subscribers and improve speeds with the activation of LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation.

Carrier aggregation is a feature of LTE-A which allows the combination of two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver much faster data speeds to customers using capable phones.

In Eastern Visayas, particularly in Leyte and Eastern Samar, around half of Smart subscribers are already smartphone users, bulk of whom are also already using LTE devices. Compared to a year ago, the number of customers in the region who use mobile data on LTE devices with LTE SIMs has also increased significantly.

Aside from upgrading its existing sites, Smart is also rolling out additional sites in the coming year, particularly to provide seamless network coverage from Tacloban City to Ormoc City and from Baybay to Abuyog, as well as to improve connectivity in heavy foot-traffic areas such as airports in Calbayog, Catarman, Ormoc and Tacloban; in malls and hospitals; and in dense residential and resettlement areas, among others.

World class internet

“With our continuing rollout across Eastern Visayas and in the rest of the country, we are bringing the benefits of world class internet closer to Filipinos nationwide,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.

“Improved connectivity in the region will enable our Waray customers to access services like online banking and e-commerce while on-the-go, stay in contact with friends and family through messaging apps, and share photos and videos of their beautiful beaches and historic spots to help boost tourism in the area,” Tamayo added.

Underpinning PLDT and Smart’s fixed and mobile network roll-out is the expansion of PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network. PLDT’s fiber footprint, now the most extensive in the country at more than 259,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.

PLDT and Smart’s network transformation efforts are backed by a historic-high capital expenditure of P78.4 billion this year. The capex investments are to further expand coverage and to increase capacity to handle the exponential growth in data traffic, with the ultimate aim of delivering the best data customer experience. (Press Release)

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Tech

Better video experience on Smart LTE: Opensignal

Customers of PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) experience faster video loading times and fewer video stalling occurrences while on Smart’s LTE network, according to the latest analysis by Opensignal.

The analysis, which is available on Opensignal’s website and covered the period Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 29, 2019, showed that Smart scored a ‘good’ video experience score of 56.6 points on Opensignal’s 4G Video Experience scale, well ahead of competition’s ‘poor’ score of 34.9 points out of 100. This score includes video loading time and video stalling metrics.

In terms of video load times, Smart customers experienced faster load times at 5 seconds, compared to competition’s 8.3 seconds. Opensignal’s 4G Video Load Time represents the average period of time mobile users have to wait for a streamed video to begin playing over an LTE connection.

Meanwhile, 4G Video Stalling Occurrence measures the proportion of users that experience an interruption in playback after a video begins streaming.

“Again, we observed a big gap between the two operators with 15.7% of Smart’s users and 40.3% of Globe’s experiencing stalling when streaming video to their smartphones,” Opensignal’s Francesco Rizzato wrote.

OpenSignal Faster load times Smart
FASTER LOAD TIMES. In terms of video load times, Smart customers experienced faster load times at 5 seconds, compared to competition’s 8.3 seconds.

 

“Many network operators that achieved Very Good Video Experience scores have just one in every ten users experiencing interruptions when playing video on an LTE connection. Having four out of ten users seeing their screen freeze during playback is definitely one of the reasons why Globe achieved a Poor score,” Rizzato added.

“Now that 4G access in the Philippines is becoming more and more of a commodity, all operators will need to focus on improving their subscribers’ experience in other areas beyond LTE reach. Our analysis shows that Smart has been doing its legwork, but it also raises the question of whether we will need to wait for 5G to see any improvement in Globe’s network experience,” Rizzato said.

Best network for video

These results come amid studies that show Filipinos are among the world’s most avid online video viewers. In 2018, online video viewing on Smart’s LTE network surged, leading to an over 100% increase in mobile data usage in 2018, and a 62-percent jump in mobile data revenues year-on-year.

This award is the latest in Smart’s string of network superiority citations from several independent third-party firms, including Ookla, Tutela, and global benchmarking leader P3 communications GmbH

“These awards are a testament to our continuous network upgrades across the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.

“We are continuously expanding and improving our network to provide the best mobile data experience to our customers—whether they use it for streaming online video, for keeping in touch with their loved ones, or for accessing other online services, such as email, mobile banking and e-commerce,” he added.

Underpinning this network performance is PLDT’s expansive fiber network, which now spans over 244,000 kilometers and also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to cellular base stations. To push further the already significant network advantage of PLDT and Smart, and to support an active campaign for more revenues, PLDT and Smart are undertaking yet another massive capital expenditures program for 2019 by allocating up to P78.4 billion budget this year. (Press Release)

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Brand Partnership Tech

Smart LTE is fastest in the Philippines: J.P.Morgan study

Smart Communications is delivering the fastest LTE service in the country, with average download speeds steadily improving through the months, a J.P.Morgan study showed.

In an April 2017 report based on the actual mobile experience of OpenSignal app users, J.P.Morgan said Smart “leads in overall LTE download speeds and at regional levels.” The OpenSignal app enables mobile data users to run their own speed tests.

At the country level, Smart recorded an average LTE download speed of 10.91 Mbps from December 2016 to February 2017. It averaged 11.76 Mbps in Metro Manila, 8.56 Mbps in South Luzon, and 10.42 Mbps in the Visayas in the same period.

Smart LTE
BETTER COVERAGE. 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 mobile data traffic.

Average LTE speeds improved

Aside from beating competition in the LTE arena, Smart has also improved its average LTE speeds in all areas covered by the study. Its latest figures are its highest in the last eight testing periods of OpenSignal.

Moreover, Smart led in terms of average 3G download speeds at the country level (2.22 Mbps) and in Metro Manila (3.25 Mbps). These 3G figures are also Smart’s highest in the last eight testing periods.

“We are happy to know that our subscribers are increasingly enjoying our newest and fastest LTE network. We have made intensive capital outlay to accelerate the deployment of LTE sites because LTE significantly boosts the speed, quality, and reliability of our mobile data service,” said PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn.

Better indoor coverage

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 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.

“While the J.P.Morgan study did not include Mindanao, our subscribers are already experiencing improved LTE service there, particularly in Metro Davao where we have completed our network overhaul program,” Horn said.

Superior digital experience

“Soon, more Filipinos from all over the country will enjoy a digital experience like never before,” said PLDT-Smart chief revenue officer Eric Alberto. “Our network dominance and reliability will enable us to deliver a superior digital experience to Filipinos, whose appetite for relevant digital content is constantly growing.”

Horn said that through its LTE rollout, Smart was also laying the foundation for further service improvements, such as LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers.

He added that while Smart was boosting its LTE services, it continued to fortify its 3G network to better serve the majority of its smartphone-owning subscribers, who are using 3G handsets. (Press Release)