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By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz
Philippine News Agency

MANILA – Many coastal towns and far-flung areas in Visayas are now enjoying high-speed mobile internet after Smart Communications upgraded all its cell sites to LTE (Long Term Evolution).

In a statement on Tuesday, Smart said it has upgraded nearly 1,500 cell sites to LTE in the Visayas with the last upgraded site in Kawayan, a fifth-class municipality in Biliran.

“All of Smart’s sites in the Visayas are already on LTE. Smart has also expanded LTE capacity in the Visayas by 31 percent compared to end-2019,” Smart said.

To date, Smart said its LTE coverage is available in the major cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Bohol, Tacloban, Ormoc, Borongan, Catarman, Catbalogan, and Calbayog.

Mario Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering, said rolling out and upgrading cell sites in the Philippine archipelago presents “unique challenges.”

However, he said Smart is committed to improving its services through the expansion of its network.

“Recently, we fired up an LTE base station in Pag-Asa Island in the municipality of Kalayaan, the country’s most remote cell site. We have also fired up a cell site in Brgy. Tucdao, Kawayan in Biliran. These are far-flung communities, but we are committed to doing this,” Tamayo said.

Gina Ang, former mayor of Kawayan, said the activation of LTE in their town will not only help boost economic activity but will also help continue the education of young Filipinos in the midst of the pandemic through online and blended learning.

“Before the pandemic, students used to flock to the old municipal hall to access the internet for their school activities,” Ang said.

As of August, Smart has increased the number of its LTE cell sites by 15 percent to a total of 28,200 nationwide.

This “accelerated network rollout,” it said, forms part of the PLDT Group’s investment in telecommunications totaling to some PHP260 billion from 2015 to 2019. (PNA)

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