Smart floors it on LTE-A carrier aggregation rollouts

Smart Communications LTE-A
An LTE-A base station somewhere in the Philippines, recently. Image credit: Smart Communications

PLDT’s wireless arm Smart Communications says it is accelerating the deployment of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and carrier aggregation (CA) technology to more areas this year to provide better mobile data experience to customers.

Smart has already fired up 3CC CA sites in cities across Metro Manila, as well as in major cities in other regions of the country, including Baguio City in Benguet; Santa Rosa, Calamba and Biñan in Laguna; the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, Tagbilaran and Ormoc in the Visayas; and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog, and Zamboanga in Mindanao.

Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice president for network planning and engineering at PLDT and Smart, said the operator plans to roll out more sites with carrier aggregation capability in more areas across the country this year.

“In Metro Manila, we are deploying 4CC starting with Marikina and Quezon City,” Tamayo said. In Marikina City, for example, customers with 4CC CA-capable devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 have reported data download speeds of over 200 Mbps, he said.

Tamayo said 4CC aggregation will be rolled out in more areas where there is a concentration of capable devices.

Smart’s accelerated deployment of LTE-Advanced is part of its overall aim to step up roll out of its LTE network. Smart plans to double its LTE base stations this year to about 17,700, and raising the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to more than 6,800 (compared to 8,700 LTE base stations and over 4,300 LTE cell sites at the end of 2017). Smart is also deploying 4×4 MIMO technology.

Smart said it has also increased its 3G base stations to over 9,800, and its 3G-equipped cell sites to about 7,500, as of the end of last year.

PLDT says its 2018 capex is expected to reach 58 billion pesos ($1.1 billion), which includes allocations for the aggressive roll-out of its fiber broadband service, which in turn also supports its mobile network rollout by providing backhaul links for base stations.

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