Smart, the mobile unit of the Philippines’ largest operator PLDT, committed to expanding its 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.

The operator submitted a three-year network rollout plan to the National Telecommunications Commission, in line with conditions imposed by the regulator in approving a frequency co-use arrangement between Smart and BellTel.

Smart said in a statement it is rapidly expanding both the coverage and capacity of its LTE service, using its existing frequencies combined with the new spectrum acquired recently from San Miguel Corp (SMC). It aims to cover nearly 40 per cent of the country’s 1,634 cities and municipalities by the end of 2016.

“We are accelerating our LTE deployment because this will enable us to deliver faster, more reliable and affordable internet services throughout the country,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information adviser at PLDT and Smart.

The operator said it also activated nearly 200 new cell sites across the country, bringing the total number of sites now using the 1.8MHz frequency covered by a co-use agreement with the telecoms business of SMC to 2,221.

Smart launched three cell sites using the 700MHz frequency it acquired from SMC and plans to roll out 360 sites supporting this spectrum this year.

Smart has seen its market share drop nearly 10 points to 52 per cent over the past two years, while rival Globe’s share has jumped from 38 to 48 per cent over the same period.