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PH telcos are intensifying 4G network upgrades parallel with 5G rollout

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Local telcos Smart and Globe have recently launched their 5G services in the Philippines and it is here to stay.
PH telcos are intensifying 4G network upgrades parallel with 5G rollout
File photo: 5G and 4G speed test in BGC

4G improvements are coming as well

Openly, both companies are ramping up the rollout of the said next-generation tech to support the influx of upcoming 5G-ready handsets and to improve the overall state of the internet in the country.

But, what about 4G? Will it be left behind? The answer is a big NO.

Contrary to the belief of Filipino netizens commonly found in every local 5G-related posts, PH telcos are intensifying 4G network upgrades parallel with 5G rollout.

The telcos did the same thing moving 4G from 3G. It is essentially future-proofing the physical network infrastructure and it makes deployment of the next hardware quicker. 

In fact, both are spending a lot on network upgrades. In 2020 alone, Globe allocated USD 1.2 billion (around PHP 63 billion) capex to improve its network. Meanwhile, Smart's capex is expected to reach PHP 70 billion this year.

Why the telcos upgrading the current 4G network?

1. There's a lot of 4G users in the country.
2. Our 4G towers are not enough. Currently, more there are more than 4,000 users per cell site in the country—the highest in the region. They know that they need to improve this.
3. Some 4G towers support 5G antennas which will allow the telcos to install 5G on more locations faster.
4. To improve the overall state of PH mobile internet. If the telcos are successful in rolling out both 4G and 5G infra to more areas, network congestion will be fewer and Filipinos will experience faster and more reliable connections.

Also, if more users will switch to 5G in the coming years, network congestion for 4G users will be lesser.


Slowly, the upgrades are paying off. Based on Ookla's June 2020 data, for Mobile, PH rank is up by 8 spots with 16.17 Mbps average download speed and 5.91 Mbps upload speed. For Fixed Broadband, we are up by 3 spots.

It is still a long way to go, but there are improvements. It also seems that the Philippine government will finally help the telcos get permits to build cell towers faster.

Just recently, President Duterte agreed that the process of giving out permits to telcos for building cell towers must be improved.

The government promised to reduce its process to a maximum of 20 days from 200 days in the past.

If this will materialize, we can expect a better state of PH internet in the coming years.

There is hope.
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