Smart formally fires up LTE network

Top dog Smart Communications has officially launched its LTE (long-term evolution) service — the first in the country, at least in the area of wireless broadband technology.

Smart officials Noel Lorenzana, Mar Tamayo, Roland Pena, and Napoleon Nazareno lead the launch of the company’s LTE broadband service at Resorts World in Pasay City on Saturday

The high-speed network was activated by top officials of Smart in a star-studded afternoon ceremony held at the Resorts World in Pasay City on Saturday, Aug. 25.

The impact of the launch, however, appeared to have been diminished by Globe Telecom’s LTE announcement on Thursday which somehow stole the thunder from Smart’s LTE party.

In a press briefing in Makati City, Globe said it will activate the first mobile LTE network in the country in the fourth quarter of this year, pointing out that Smart doesn’t have any plans yet for its mobile LTE service.

The Ayala-owned carrier explained that while Smart is ahead in the roll-out for LTE broadband service — which can be accessed via a USB dongle inserted in a computer –- it has no actual pronouncement yet for its LTE service for mobile phones and devices.

But, Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto said during the Pasay event that the mobile operator is also slated to activate its mobile LTE services by year-end when more LTE devices are expected to become available.

Roland Pena, head for IT and network systems at Smart, said the arrival of LTE-enabled devices might not be long since the carrier is using the 2100 MHz for its LTE version — the same LTE frequency being utilized in Japan.

Pena said LTE might take half of the time -– about four to five years — that it took 3G to hit mainstream status in the country. As early as now, however, he said Smart is already looking at three wireless technology in preparation for the post-LTE era.

The top three network equipment makers in the world – Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia Siemens Networks – bagged the LTE contract, according to Pena.

Isberto stressed, meanwhile, that its LTE network is a real “4G” technology that offers wireless downloads speeds of up to 42Mbps.

“We don’t treat HSPA+ as 4G because it’s just 3G,” said Isberto, obviously referring to Globe’s branding of its HSPA+ service as 4G or fourth-generation wireless technology.

“LTE is a different highway altogether,” Isberto said, adding that Smart is eyeing to offer the service to enterprises in areas where fiber optic is not available.

At the launch, Smart also announced that it is giving the early adopters of its LTE Plan 3500 the freedom to use the service without any bandwidth cap until October 25, 2012. After the deadline, a 10GB monthly cap will take effect.

Comment on this post