The leading Philippine operator, Smart has modernized its network in anticipation of 3G and 4G roll-out, its CEO Napoleon Nazareno has revealed.
The country has a low-ARPU customer base, but Nazareno argues that the Philippines market is distinct in that it combines low-ARPU customers with a high demand for data. Nazareno seemed keen to point out the convergence of telcos with internet and web operations.
He gave the country’s level of engagement with social media as an example of this but cited smartphone price points as a stumbling block for growth of 3G and 4G services. “It’s just a question of how the terminals will be made available in a large scale at affordable prices for our type of market,” he said.
The company has invested about US$1.7 billion in improving coverage and capacity of its network. Some LTE base stations have been deployed in central Manila. There are plans for another “three to four hundred base stations” in urban centres. Initial uptake of LTE services from Smart has seen approximately 141,000 users according to Wireless Intelligence.