Smart to ramp up in 2018 its LTE-A network capable of 200 Mbps

PLDT’s wireless arm Smart Communications said it will roll out its high-speed LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service with carrier aggregation in more areas of the country to speed up mobile Internet speeds in the Philippines in 2018.

Smart Communications co-founder and chief wireless advisor Orlando B. Vea (first from left) during the test of LTE-A  in 2014

Smart Communications co-founder and chief wireless advisor Orlando B. Vea (first from left) during the test of LTE-A in 2014

This includes the deployment of four-component (4CC) carrier aggregation which can deliver data speeds of over 200 Mbps via 4CC capable handsets.

“This is not a test or pilot. We are bringing today 4CC to our customers as a live, commercial service that can deliver world-class mobile Internet,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering.

“By deploying LTE-A, we will have an even more powerful network platform for offering a richer array of data services and digital life solutions to enterprises, families and individuals,” said Ernesto R. Alberto, PLDT group chief revenue officer.

Carrier Aggregation on LTE-A involves combining two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds to mobile phone users. With 4CC, four separate spectrum bands are combined, resulting in much higher data speeds.

In late 2017, Smart and technology partner Huawei Technologies Philippines started firing up 4CC base stations in Boracay and Marikina City, reaching speeds during internal tests of more than 300 Mbps in a single-user scenario and over 200 Mbps in a multi-user daytime set up, using Samsung’s flagship 4CC-capable smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

“We are now bringing 4CC to Quezon City and other parts of Metro Manila, where LTE-A handsets are already being used,” Tamayo explained.

In its recent report, OpenSignal said that the countries with the fastest mobile data speeds “tend to be ones that have built LTE-Advanced networks and have a large proportion of LTE-Advanced capable devices.”

Smart’s LTE-A roll out is a follow through of its expansion of its LTE or Long Term Evolution network over the past year.

This has been complemented by a 3G rollout in several frequency bands as well. As a result, the company expects to fulfill its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover over 90% of the country’s cities and towns with mobile broadband using LTE and 3G by early 2018.

According to OpenSignal, Smart has led in terms of LTE speeds across the country, posting an average download speed of 10.6 Mbps. Smart said its own recent internal tests show encouraging results, posting median LTE download speeds in Metro Manila for example of 17.9 Mbps.

“We have supplemented our LTE rollout with 3G because many customers are still using 3G handsets. But the future of mobile broadband clearly lies with LTE,” Tamayo said.

LTE’s advantage over 3G lies in the fact that it is a pure data technology. This enables LTE to handle its resources efficiently, more than doubling it as compared to 3G.

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