The Philippines has three major carriers, Sun, Globe, and SMART. Sun is known for it’s affordable prepaid plans and promos, Globe is known for its flashy devices and extensive coverage in 2g/3g. SMART is soon going to be understood as the only provider with LTE coverage, putting it in groundbreaking territory.

While most of Southeast Asia lives on texting, which requires little bandwidth but large network volume capacity, the trend is slowly starting to change. More people are starting to buy smartphones which are capable of a lot more in terms of tasking. This requires carriers to upgrade, and in the Philippines, SMART Telecommunications, the largest carrier in the country, has adapted quite well.

SMART, with its some 53 million customers across its GSM and Broadband networks, is clearly trying to cater to a specific sect of people which are mostly high-bandwidth consumers into online gaming, video-conferencing, streaming of HD videos, and downloading large files. This week they unveiled a spanking new update to their network in the form of 4G LTE and say “it will boost the country’s development”. While yours truly doubts it will do anything except boost the bottom line for SMART, it is great to see LTE finally hitting the archipelago nation.

Rolling out this upgrade, however, has not been entirely easy, as infrastructure can be a real challenge in developing countries. But the company says,

“With Smart LTE, we can expect great things to happen in the near future. This will eneable Filipinos to live faster and to live more.  This, in turn, will enable the company to effectively expand their LTE network which will also depend on the market demand.” 

They clearly believe this is the best thing for the telco and the country at large. I can’t say I disagree! An investment of $1.6B was incorporated into this task, so they are quite serious about their intent to maintain their market dominance while providing better, faster options than their competitors.

Consumers will also be happy about SMART’s pricing structure as well. An affordable P3,500/10 gig limit, is much more affordable than those in other countries. The US charges around an average of P500 per gig! Competitors SKYbroadband and competitor Globe’s DSL setup, charge P12,999 and P14,999 respectively and these aren’t even mobile solutions.

Finally, the work is reported to start August 25th; I should note that around 9K+ cell sites nationwide will be affected during the roll-out in cities like Cebu, Davao, Boracay, and of course, Metro Manila. Hang in there Filipinos, the best service you’ve ever seen is about to happen!