Filipino mobile market-leader Smart announced over the weekend that it will switch on the country’s first commercial LTE service on 25 August (Saturday), establishing the country as one of the first developing markets in Asia to migrate to 4G.   

The operator says it has invested PHP67.1 billion (US$1.6 billion) building-out a next-generation network comprising 9,500 base stations and capable of 42Mb/s downlink speeds.

“LTE provides the cutting edge for our mobile broadband network which is also equipped with HSPA+, HSPA and 3G facilities,” said Smart’s wireless consumer division head Emmanuel Lorenzana.

The new network is expected to go live initially in the major cities of Manila, Cebu, Davao and Boracay, among the locations where the operator has been conducting LTE tests over the past year.

Smart says it has also strengthened [parent group] PLDT’s fibre optic networks and overseas fibre optic cable systems to ensure that “high-speed broadband services offered via LTE will be fully supported.”

According to Wireless Intelligence, Smart controls a dominant 68 percent market share of the Philippine mobile market, with approximately 68 million total connections. Smart's main rival, Globe Telecom, is planning to upgrade all of its 7,060 cell sites (12,714 base stations) to LTE as part of a US$790 million network modernisation drive this year.

Smart CEO Napoleon Nazareno recently spoke about the company’s LTE plans in an exclusive video interview with Mobile World Live