Philippines wireless provider Smart Communications has revealed that its in-deployment 5G network now extends to 6,400 base transceiver stations (BTS), eclipsing its own target of 3,800 for 2021.
This puts Smart’s total base stations as of end-September to 72,600, enabling Smart to cover 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, said a press release from the mobile division of PLDT.
"Off the back of the huge number of 5G base stations that we built this year will be a very targeted rollout of 5G in 2022," said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Inc and Smart Communications President and CEO. "We will be more granular next year, doubling down to ensure that our efforts match the demand and the availability of handsets in the market," he added.
Firing up 5G in more areas in the third quarter, such as Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, Amadeo in Cavite, Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental and Valencia City in Bukidnon, Smart's continuous 5G network buildout has enabled it to reinforce its dominance in 5G, widening its lead over rivals as the Philippines' fastest and most reliable 5G network.
This expanded network supports the growth of data traffic on Smart’s 5G network, which more than doubled in the third quarter--up 116% from the second quarter of 2021. In the third quarter alone, average data traffic per month increased by nearly 20x versus the fourth quarter of 2020.
Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis, has recognized Smart as the Philippines’ fastest and most reliable 5G network for Q1-Q2 2021, with median download and upload speeds that are twice faster than its closest rival. Ookla has also cited Smart as the fastest mobile data network in the Philippines for the fourth consecutive year.
Recently, Smart also notched wins in all seven categories of the first 5G Experience Report for the Philippines by independent mobile analytics firm Opensignal, including outright wins in 5G Availability, 5G Download Speed, 5G Upload Speed, 5G Video Experience, and 5G Games Experience.
Supporting Smart's 5G network is PLDT's fiber infrastructure of about 615,000 kilometers as of the end of September.