One afternoon last week, we sat down with LTE experts from Smart Communications so we can get a better understanding about their LTE network and what device specifications consumers should look for if they want to use LTE.
What we can’t give you right now are details about iPhone 5 and if it will work with their LTE. Smart is keeping a tight lip on that issue. What you also won’t see here are mobile data plans for LTE devices but they gave us a hint that there will be different pricing models you can choose from.
So what do you probably know so far? One is that Smart LTE operates on both 2100 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency. We were given a heads up that they will also be introducing LTE on the 850 MHz frequency real soon making Smart the only telco in the Asia-Pacific region to support three LTE bands. What this does is widen their LTE highway for more capacity, network resiliency, and more device compatibility.
According to PLDT-Smart Technology Group Head Rolando G. Pena, the 850MHz frequency which has a wider radial reach will provide the umbrella coverage layer to their LTE network. This frequency also provides better indoor signal to complement their 1800MHz and 2100MHz frequencies.
Another thing most people don’t know but should know about using LTE devices is that it should be compatible with the Band and Frequency of the network you’re subscribed to. There are a total of 36 LTE bands available and having a device that supports 2100 MHz on LTE is not enough.
For example, Smart uses Band 1 and AT&T uses Band 4 on the 2100 MHz spectrum. However, you can’t use your unlocked AT&T LTE phone (iPhone 5 perhaps?) when you bring it here in the Philippines to work with Smart’s LTE. Or you can simply forget about LTE devices from the US because their standard is not widely used in other countries. Device bands should match carrier bands.
Smart uses the following LTE Bands:
- Band 1 – 2100 MHz
- Band 3 – 1800 MHz
- Band 5 – 850 MHz
If you’re wondering about other telcos that use the same bands, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo uses Band 1, CSL in Hong Kong, M1 in Singapore, Australia’s Telstra, and France’s Orange use Band 3. If you have LTE phones from those telcos, and they are unlocked, they will work with a Smart LTE-provisioned SIM card. Or check a device’s supported LTE bands to ensure that it will work with our local LTE networks.
To be on the safe side, Smart still recommends subscribers to get their LTE handsets straight from the telco to ensure total compatibility and expected LTE results. We were told that carriers typically install features or additional things to make sure that things work as expected when used within their network.
So that’s it. We’ll keep you posted about their new 850Mhz LTE band once they formally announce it.
Oh they also showed us their nano-SIM (above) which means that they will carry the iPhone 5 but doesn’t directly imply that it will be supported by their LTE network.