We were at the 1st Philippine LTE Forum earlier which was hosted by SMART Communications and the big news is, Smart’s LTE is coming soon, really soon. Smart’s Marketing Manager, Ron Molina, gave us a not-so-cryptic combination of numbers when asked when LTE will be available – 8, 25, 12 folks, mark your calendars.
Speakers from Cisco Systems, Huawei Technologies, NTT Docomo of Japan, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Ericsson Technologies were on hand to brief us the technology and implementation behind LTE, its advantages and applications.
For those who are still in the dark on what LTE is all about and what it can do for you, it’s a 4G mobile network technology which simply gives you super fast data connectivity. If you think of 3G as our South Super Highway, then LTE will be the Skyway which you would definitely want to enjoy HD video streaming, low-latency gaming, fast downloads without any hiccups.
We were part of Smart’s LTE beta test group that started last year and here’s a sampling of what you can expect with an LTE connection.
Results varied based on location but the highest recorded download speed was at 80.19 Mbps. On the downside, we were also getting 1Mbps speeds but you have to consider that Smart LTE sites were also limited at that time. Smart has completed its mobile network upgrade last month so it’s easy to switch on the LTE network on a base station when their LTE becomes live.
What about devices that supports LTE?
The only LTE-capable handset officially available right now in the market is the Sony Xperia Ion but unfortunately, it uses the 700Mhz frequency band which is not the same LTE frequency of Smart. That leaves us to the iPad 3 whose LTE runs on the same 2.1GHz frequency as that of Smart. There’s also the Huawei LTE dongle that we used during the beta test which was rather un-elegant.
UPDATE: We just learned that the iPad 3 being sold here cannot use Smart’s LTE as well. Even if it uses the 2100 MHz frequency, it’s not the same band used by Smart. We’ll just have to wait for Smart to announce devices and handsets that can take advantage of their LTE service.
As for pricing, we have no word yet but we’ll keep you posted once the service is launched. Don’t expect it to be on the same range as what we have with 3G right now though.