Smart Communications Brings LTE Advanced to the Philippines

On June 3, 2011 in Boracay, I was fortunate to be one of the first individuals to experience ultra-fast 50mbps LTE mobile internet speeds in the Philippines as delivered by Smart Communications. [Read this throwback post for more information.]

The other day - April 13, 2016 - as a seeming follow-up to that landmark experience, Smart Communications flew me and my friends in the local tech media to the same gorgeous island for the launch of the country's first LTE Advanced mobile service.

As a Pinoy technology blogger, it was truly a 'full circle' moment for me. And I feel honored to have personally witnessed Smart's stellar efforts to be the first to offer the fastest and most innovative connectivity services to Filipinos.

Regardless of which network we are subscribed to, I think we all have to give that to Smart.

The MVP-company always does its best to be at the forefront of digital innovations and advancements. Obviously, the people behind Smart Communications strive to put our nation at par with first world countries when it comes to network upgrades -- and as a paying subscriber, that's something that I can appreciate.

Pushing boundaries is never easy -- so I salute their effort. Let's give credit where it is due.

Smart LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Philippines

Now, for my friends and readers who've been sending me questions since yesterday about Smart's new LTE-A network, allow me to share some details that were disclosed at the launch.

What is LTE Advanced?

"It is about making the internet faster. LTE Advanced is also called 4.5G indicating that it is a significant step forward from 4G or LTE as we have it today already deployed. We can also call it LTE with a Turbo Boost because everything gets so much faster. The user experience is just so much better if you have higher speed," shared Mr. Joachim Horn, Chief Technology and Information Advisor of Smart Communications.

How does LTE Advanced work?

"What we are doing is in principle very much comparable to a road or a highway. If you have only one lane on both sides, then of course, only two cars can travel along. If you do road widening, you put a second lane, then more cars can go or the cars go faster. And if you put three lanes, they can go three times faster [...] And this is exactly what the innovation is in LTE-A, which we launched here. Thanks to new capabilities in handsets [and] thanks to new capabilities in the network, we are able to combine three channels of LTE at once and by that, more than tripling the download speed," Mr. Horn explained.

Smart LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Philippines

How fast is LTE Advanced?

Quoting Smart's Chief Technology Advisor: "We have measured here in [Boracay], 200 to 250 megabit per second with the Samsung [Galaxy] S7 phone. 250mbps! Think about that. That's amazing over-the-air. Now, I have to qualify; We know that mobile networks are shared, right? So if there are more users sharing the cell, of course, not everybody will get 250mpbs. But we have seen that even if there are five or seven or ten users in one [LTE-A] cell, still, people will get 70, 100, 120 megabit per second, which is still an amazing speed."

Smart LTE Advanced Speeds, LTE-A Philippines
Tech bloggers ran SpeedTest on our Smart LTE-A powered Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones and these are the highest 4G+ mobile data speeds that we got: 205.62mbps Download Speed and 25.40mbps Upload Speed

Do we need a special device to access LTE-A or LTE Advanced?

"What's important to know is that you need a phone or device that supports the technology. At the moment, we know that - from Samsung - the S7 and S7 Edge are supporting it. But many more devices will be rolled out this year and will become available not only on the high-end but - step-wise - also on the lower end so that all customers eventually will be able to enjoy all of that."

When can Pinoy consumers start experiencing Smart LTE Advanced?

"We are actually switching it on tomorrow [, April 14, 2015]. And we will cover all of Boracay [...] by end of this quarter," Mr. Horn told us. As for the rest of the country, Smart reps told me that their engineers are working very hard to deliver the service nationwide at the soonest possible time.

Smart LTE Advanced

How can Smart LTE Advanced benefit consumers? What are some practical uses of LTE-A?

Just imagine what you can do with download speeds of 100mbps and upload speed of 20mbps? If you have a 4GB file that you need to download for work or play, you can get the entire thing in less than a minute. If you're a video creator who needs to regularly upload 4K or Full HD videos on Youtube, you won't have to wait for hours before your clip goes live on the site. The possibilities are endless.

Smart LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Philippines
Apart from its LTE Advanced service, Smart is also continuously improving their current 3G and 4G networks as well as building new infrastructure for the arrival of 5G in 2020.

If you have more questions about Smart LTE Advanced, kindly leave them in the comments section below and I'll try to forward them to our friends at the company. Then, I'll share their answers in a follow-up TechPinas post regarding this freshly launched service.