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Smart Expands LTE and 5G Coverage as Data Use Surges

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Smart Communications, Inc. has increased the number of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G base stations across the country to meet the rising demand for mobile data in the post-pandemic Next Normal.

From Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, Smart has raised its total number of base stations nationwide to 76,600 by the end of March 2022, supporting its 3G, 4G/LTE, and 5G customers. This includes around 7,300 5G base stations.

Among those who have benefited from this expanded Smart 5G network is Rey Yaba of Cagayan de Oro City. "We use messaging apps like Viber for work. I also communicate with my family over video calls. Smart 5G has helped make sure I have a strong, reliable signal for these activities," said Yaba.

A volunteer for the National Citizen's Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) in the last elections, Yaba also said that reliable connectivity was important for volunteers like him. "We coordinated with the command center either through phone calls, video calls, or social media. We also needed to send photos and videos a lot. All these things are more accessible now, with my Smart 5G connection," he said.

In the first quarter of 2022, Smart also deployed more 5G base stations across the country, including in Davao City; the Metro Manila cities of Pasay, Quezon City, Taguig, Mandaluyong, and Manila; Silang in Cavite and Lumban in Laguna; and in the Visayas cities of Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Baybay, to name a few.

"As the economy recovers and people become more mobile, the demand for fast and reliable connectivity will only further increase. This consistent expansion of our fixed and mobile network over the years has enabled us to respond to the needs of our customers, who have been relying on the internet to power their hybrid workplaces, online learning, electronic banking, and e-commerce," said Mario G. Tamayo, Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart.

Supporting Smart's mobile network is PLDT's fiber infrastructure, which was at 803,000 kilometers as of end-March 2022.

PLDT and Smart's integrated fixed and wireless networks support the increased demand for mobile data in the first quarter of the year. Mobile data traffic grew 30% year-on-year to 1,010 petabytes in the first quarter of 2022.

PLDT earlier this month raised its capital expenditure guidance to ₱85 billion from a range of ₱75 billion to ₱80 billion. This increase will support updated requirements for the Home broadband and data center businesses and additional upgrades of the towers and their passive infrastructure assets—subject of the tower sale and leaseback transaction. 

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