More customers of PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) are now on LTE, amid sustained network improvement efforts and ramped-up LTE migration campaigns. This means that a growing number of Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers are able to enjoy marked improvements in their data experience given that LTE provides the best customer experience in terms of speed and reduced latency.
In the first nine months of 2019, Smart increased the number of its 4G/LTE base stations by about 5,500, pushing the number of total LTE base stations across Smart’s network to about 21,700.
Smart’s improved LTE network, alongside Smart’s redoubled efforts to encourage subscribers to move up to LTE resulted in the 82-percent increase in the number of LTE data users, compared to a year ago.
To encourage customers to upgrade, Smart offered freebies to those who upgrade to LTE SIMs and LTE handsets. These include 30 days of Free YouTube for those who upgraded to LTE SIMs, and 60 days Free YouTube to those who upgraded to LTE smartphones.
“By encouraging our customers to shift to LTE, we can achieve our goal of providing them the best customer experience,” said Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio.
In the first nine months of the year, mobile service revenues grew by 20% year-on-year to Php52.6 billion, with mobile internet revenues growing 47% to Php34.5 billion.
This is on the back of the surge in mobile internet traffic of Smart, TNT and Sun mobile brands, which reached 1.1 exabytes (1106 PB), twice as large as the volume recorded in the same period last year. In the third quarter alone, internet traffic rose 20%, compared to the previous quarter. Driving the dramatic increase in data traffic are the use of video and e-games, both of which require the support of a good mobile network.
The share of data and broadband to PLDT’s total service revenues has continued to increase and is now at 66%, up from 60% in the same period last year.
Smart’s continuing roll-out of its 4G/LTE network has made these gains possible as it improved mobile service quality and coverage.
These improvements have been recognized by independent third party surveys, which continued to show Smart offering a superior customer experience, particularly for video.
In its latest report, mobile data analytics firm Opensignal said Smart provides the country’s Best Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience.
Meanwhile, Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis, also found that PLDT and Smart delivered the country’s fastest fixed and mobile data speeds for the first half of 2019, as they continued to widen their respective leads over their competitors.
PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which also supports Smart’s mobile network, is now at more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide and remains unparalleled.
The sustained improvement of the PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditures program estimated at P78.4 billion in 2019, of which P53.4 billion was already spent at the end of September. The capex for 2019 includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks, as well as the roll-out of last-mile installation and customer premises equipment for fixed broadband