The Philippines' Smart Communications plans to prepare its entire mobile network for LTE by as early as the middle of the year.
The mobile operator plans to deploy Single RAN technology across all of its cell sites to make them LTE-ready, Sun Starreported.
Smart, the mobile unit of incumbent operator PLDT, is conducting the upgrade to enable it to activate either LTE or HSPA+ in an area, depending on demand.
The operator currently has over 13,000 base stations. Of these, around 5,000 are 4G-ready, with 3,000 running either LTE, HSPA+ or Wimax.
PLDT and Smart will also deploy more fiber backhaul for the mobile network, to complement the 45,000km of fiber loops already in operation.
The upgrade is a major component of a 67.1 billion peso ($1.54 billion) network modernization program being conducted by both PLDT and Smart.
Smart launched LTE services in April last year, on the same weekend that rival Globe Telecom introduced its HSPA+ service.
That November, Smart started taking registrations for a three-month live LTE trial in Manila. The trial is scheduled to run until February.