Smart rolls out LTE with ‘turbo boost’ in Boracay

Posted on Apr 14, 2016 by Administrator

Smart rolls out LTE with ‘turbo boost’ in Boracay

By Daphne J. MagturoReporter

SMART Communications, Inc. on Wednesday will roll out the country’s first Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) technology, also known as 4.5G, in Boracay, promising Internet speed that is thrice the current LTE.

“We’ve come a step forward after LTE and we will roll it out [today] in Boracay. This will be an improvement in coverage, capacity, speed and stability,” Smart and PLDT, Inc. Chief Technology and Information Advisor Joachim Horn told a media briefing yesterday in Makati City.

Describing it as an “LTE with a turbo boost,” the 4.5G will use “carrier aggregation,” or the ability to combine two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds to mobile users.

“This is like being able to put together two or more separate highways in order to create a wider highway through which vehicular traffic can flow more freely and at a much faster rate,” Mr. Horn said. “When we tested it in Boracay, the speed is around 200 to 250 Megabits per second (Mbps) -- that’s triple the speed we enjoy today.”

The new technology will have a latency of 20 millisecond (ms), compared to the 25 to 30 ms of the current LTE. Latency measures the delay when data travels from source to destination, causing conversations to come off as “unnatural” when using Voice over Internet Protocol apps such as Viber and Skype. High latency also causes a “sluggish” gaming experience.

Smart will first assess the market’s response in Boracay before rolling out LTE-A throughout the rest of the country.

The company is only one of a handful of LTE-A operators in the world, such as Optus in Australia, Sprint in the US, and Turkcell in Turkey.

Currently, the only devices that support LTE-A are the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Smart said other handset manufacturers will soon introduce their own LTE-A-capable handsets.

NETWORK INTEGRATION
Smart’s parent firm, PLDT, has completed 60% of the integration of Smart, Sun, and Talk ’N Text’s networks. The process started by end 2014 and is expected to be complete by yearend.

“By combining these networks, we combine the coverage areas and remove many blind spots… We are increasing coverage in some areas between 50 to 100% for Smart, SUN and TNT,” Mr. Horn said.

The group is also working with Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo as it prepares for 5G technology.

“We’re preparing our network to be ready when 5G arrives in 2020. It will be a significant uplift in user experience, speed and capacity,” Mr. Horn said.

PLDT maintained capital expenditure in 2016 at P43 billion, similar to last year’s level. This will be used to improve network dominance and reliability, “enhance ease of use” by subscribers, and introduce more content, applications and solutions.

Shares in the company jumped P20 or 1.08% to close at P1,880 each yesterday.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.



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