Customers of PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) in Bulacan who are using Long Term Evolution (LTE)-capable devices are reported to be increasing in number, following Smart’s completion of recent network upgrades in the area.

Two out of every three Smart customers in the area are now using smartphones, more than half of which are already LTE devices as more customers upgrade to LTE. Compared to a year ago, the number of mobile data users in the province has also more than doubled.

Rhodaliza Bernabe, a veteran Science teacher from Meycauayan, says that connectivity and mobile data have changed how educators like her go about their work. “We have a group chat for my advisory class, and it has allowed me to communicate with them even after class and during the weekends,” she explains.

Better connectivity has also helped her access additional information that she could relay to her students. “I use it especially for visual presentations. Before the Internet, I had to improvise, draw or just let them imagine what I wanted to teach. These days, the ability to download images which I could present to my classes has made my life easier.”

Bernabe, who teaches junior high school students at Sophia School in Meycauayan, added that the Internet has also changed how her students go about their school work. “They say they use it mostly for research and to accomplish their assignments,” she adds.

Meanwhile, for Plaridel resident Ericson Silva, mobile data can also be a means to unwind after a long day at work. “I use mobile data at home at night, for streaming videos, opening social media accounts and playing mobile games,” says Silva, who works as a systems administrator in Ortigas. “It also helps me at work, since I can check my email through my phone.”

As the demand for improved mobile internet experience increases in Bulacan, small business owners and retailers in the area have likewise noted an uptick in their sales after Smart’s network upgrades.

Leonola Redola, whose Lhor mobile and accessories stall is located in the basement of a mall in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, is among those who have benefited. “Today, thanks to better signal, business is now better, because customers are now buying data packs as well.”
Fellow retailer Mickey Otic can relate. “Before, when there was no signal, we couldn’t sell anything. Today, they buy load, or they upgrade their SIMs to LTE. Sometimes, our sales can hit up to P1,000 in a day.”

Hagonoy retailer Celia Legaspi has a similar experience. “Before the upgrades, our sales would just reach P300 in a week. These days, with more people loading up data packages, our sales could hit P500 in just two days,” she said.

Apart from SIM upgraders, Redola says many also preferred to switch to Smart. “Some of our customers said they want to move to Smart because of the stronger signal.”

Internal tests have shown speeds ranging from 20 Mbps to 100 Mbps using LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)-capable devices around Bulacan’s major cities of San Jose del Monte, Malolos and Meycauayan.

Last year, Smart’s network upgrades around Bulacan enhanced the LTE coverage and capacity across the province, improving the mobile data experience of Bulacan customers, who could use it for communication with family and workmates via chat apps, for streaming videos on YouTube and playing online games like Mobile Legends, as well as to access important online services such as mobile banking and shopping.

These network enhancement efforts in Bulacan are part of PLDT and Smart’s nationwide thrust to upgrade their fixed and mobile networks across the country. PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex was expected to reach P58 billion, including allocations for the aggressive roll-out of its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.

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