Tourists and residents of the newly rehabilitated Boracay island can experience improved connectivity as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) boosts and expands its network to support sustainable tourism on the island.
Smart is also staging the week-long Smart Love Boracay festival, which aims to showcase improvements on the island after its closure for rehabilitation last year.
To date, Smart has already deployed Long Term Evolution technology to 83% of its Boracay sites. Of these LTE sites, 80% have been further upgraded to LTE-Advanced, which gives customers an even faster mobile data experience for better video viewing and mobile gaming, for example.
Smart is also set to expand its LTE coverage and capacity across the island to better serve beachfront hotels and restaurants in the Philippines’ premier tourist destination.
“Through our continuing network upgrade efforts across the country, we are empowering tourists, residents and local businesses alike by providing them with quality connectivity wherever they may be,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.
“With our expanded networks, tourists can share the beauty of Boracay to the world, enjoy a better video streaming and mobile gaming experience, as well as access key online services like banking and e-commerce while on the island,” said Tamayo.
“Local entrepreneurs can also leverage social media to boost their respective businesses now that Boracay has been reopened to tourists,” Tamayo said, adding that with better connectivity, searching and booking restaurants, hotels and other activities online are just a tap away.
Apart from enhancing connectivity on the island, Smart is also supporting sustainable tourism through the week-long Smart Love Boracay event in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, the Provincial Government of Aklan and the local government of Malay.
The event, which runs from April 26 to May 1, aims to celebrate Boracay’s reopening and to promote environmental awareness among tourists. The week-long celebration will feature a beach clean-up activity, as well as talks and activities on sustainable tourism.
Street parties, parades, and the week-long Boracay Food Fest also aim to highlight the artistry and creativity of Boracay’s local artists and businesses.
Upgrade to LTE in Boracay
To fully enjoy the improved LTE network, customers are encouraged to upgrade to an LTE-capable smartphone and an LTE SIM. All Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers can check if their SIMs are LTE-ready by texting SIMCHECK to 5832 for free. They can also check if their location is LTE ready by accessing smart.com.ph/LTE.
Smart, TNT and Sun customers can also easily upgrade to an LTE SIM without changing their existing number by going to a nearby Smart Store or through an LTE-Ready Self-Service Upgrade SIM, which is available for P10 at Smart loading partners nationwide, with free 1GB data valid for three days upon upgrading.
First in LTE
Boracay was the site of several technological firsts for Smart as well as the Philippines, including the firing up of LTE in 2012 and the deployment of LTE-A in 2016, in anticipation of the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming and gaming.
Today, about 70% of Smart’s LTE sites across the country are already on LTE-A, including major towns and cities like Paoay in Ilocos Norte, Baguio in Benguet, San Fernando in Pampanga, Calamba in Laguna, Antipolo in Rizal, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Naga in Camarines Sur, San Jose in Antique, Bacolod in Negros Occidental, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Lapu-Lapu in Cebu, Ormoc in Leyte, Dipolog in Zamboanga del Norte, Koronadal in South Cotabato and Davao City, to name a few.
As of end-2018, Smart has increased the number of LTE base stations nationwide by over 86% year-on-year to about 16,200, while the number of 3G base stations also increased by 17% to about 11,500. This massive deployment has enabled Smart to provide mobile broadband in at least 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities.
PLDT’s expansive fiber network, now at over 244,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to cellular base stations.
PLDT and Smart are undertaking another massive capital expenditures program for 2019 by allocating up to P78.4 billion budget this year, P20 billion higher than the previous year, to push further the companies’ already significant network advantage.