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Smart Communications Inc. has increased the number of its LTE base stations in the first eight months of the year as part of its efforts to improve connectivity, according to a report by GMA News.

In a statement, Smart said its LTE bases stations number to 28,200 as of end-August, up 15% year-on-year.

“Providing high capacity links for these base stations is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, now at 382,500 kilometers as of end-August,” the company said.

Base stations are electronic equipment installed on cell sites that transmit and receive radio frequencies.

They connect customers’ mobile devices, such as phones and wifi routers like Smart Bro LTE pocket Wifi and the PLDT Home Wifi, to the network, according to Smart.

“Your device is constantly ‘talking’ to the nearest base station and cell site,” Mario Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering, said.

“Your phone and the base station can do that because they share common frequencies—similar to when you tune in to a radio or TV station. Your phone should be able to pick up the signal coming from the base station if the phone has the same frequency as the base station,” Tamayo said.

The base stations in a cell site are connected via fiber to the network core, which processes calls, messages, and data transactions.

“When you turn on your phone, the first thing it does is look for a signal. It connects to a base station, which then connects to the core, to verify information about you, the subscriber. The core is the heart and the brain of the network, and it contains all the information about a subscriber—whether they are a prepaid or postpaid subscriber, or their active data subscriptions, for example,” Tamayo said.

“From the base station all the way to the core, the connection is mostly fiber. Faster transmission of data is best enabled by fiberizing the base stations, so our customers can have a better experience when streaming videos, for example,” he said.

Smart, he said, was able to optimize its network configuration by applying a basic foundation of 700Mhz (megahertz) in all its sites to maximize coverage while adding base stations per site for capacity as necessary.

“As a result, we have managed to build an efficient network despite a relatively lower number of cell sites while covering 95% of the population in the Philippines,” Tamayo said.

Smart’s accelerated network rollout forms part of the PLDT Group’s sustained investments in their network, which have totaled some P260 billion from 2015 to 2019.

With the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has increased its target capital expenditures for 2020 to P70 billion or higher.


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