Smart Communications is fast-tracking it's network upgrade to 4G LTE. In a press release, Smart said that their network will be "LTE-ready" by as early as mid-2012. That means we can expect the network to go live in some key cities in the country as early as June or July.
To do this, they are installing Single RAN (Radio Access Network) base stations in all of their 13,000 cell sites nationwide. More than 5,000 base stations of Smart are now 4G ready, with almost 3,000 - on the other hand - are now 4G enabled. I'm not sure if that means they now have about 3,000 4G enabled base stations and another 5,000 which can be shortly upgraded to 4G, because 4G ready basically means "ready for 4G upgrade". If my instinct is correct, then we can soon expect about 8,000 4G base stations from Smart! Wow!
Smart LTE-ready by mid-2012
Wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) will upgrade its entire mobile phone network to “LTE-ready” status by as early as mid-2012, company officials said Friday.
“That means we will be able to activate LTE or HSPA+ services at any of our base stations, depending what the market in that area requires,” said PLDT and Smart Technology Group Head Rolando G. Peña
“This is a major component of the P67.1 billion network modernization of PLDT and Smart which we have accelerated and intend to complete within the year,” he added.
LTE is shorthand for the most advanced fourth generation (4G) wireless technology called Long Term Evolution which is capable of speeds of 100 Mbps and above. High Speed Access Plus (HSPA+) is a 4G technology that can deliver speeds of up to 80 Mbps.
To make its network of over 13,000 base stations 4G-ready, Smart is installing Single Radio Access Network (Single RAN) base stations in all of its cell sites. Single RAN facilities can be easily upgraded to offer either HSPA+ or LTE services through software upgrades and some additional hardware equipment.
PLDT and Smart are also rolling more fiber optic cables (FOCs) to connect its base stations to the rest of the network. FOCs enable the network to carry data traffic in greater volumes and faster speeds with greater resiliency.
As of end-2011, over 5,000 Smart base stations were already 4G-ready—close to 3,000 of which are already 4G-equipped (with LTE, HSPA+ and Wi-Max facilities) —backed by more than 45,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables arranged in “loops”.
“Looping” allows data to be redirected to other avenues or channels, should one channel of connectivity be cut thus making the PLDT group’s network the most comprehensive and the most resilient in the Philippines.
“We have fast-tracked this program because consumer and business demand for mobile broadband services is growing rapidly. At the same time, more LTE and HSPA+ devices are being brought into the market,” Peña said.
Market analytics firm Pyramid Research (www.pyr.com) cites in its latest report that increased demand for mobile video is one of the main factors for the tenfold increase in the number of commercially-available LTE devices last year.
Pyramid Research goes as far as to predict that smartphones will surpass personal computers (PCs) as the largest market segment which uses LTE by as early as 2014.
In the recently-concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA, several LTE-capable phones have been unveiled.
These include the HTC Titan II, the Nokia Lumia 900, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, and the Sony Xperia ion.
Rumors of the third Apple iPad sporting 4G LTE connectivity have also been a hot topic in blogs, social media, and technology news sites.
Leading in 4G
Smart was the first Philippine mobile operator to start deploying LTE facilities last year in strategic areas of the country. In November 2011, Smart made “Smart Evolution LTE” available to select members of the media via a closed beta test.
Using LTE-capable USB dongles, test participants have experienced speeds of up to 80Mbps—faster than most commercially-available wired and wireless Internet services in the market today.
Smart has also installed the largest network of HSPA+ base stations which supports Smart Bro Rocket Plug-It and Smart Bro Rocket WiFi Plus, the fastest portable Internet devices in the country.
Smart is also the only company in the Philippines which carries HSPA+ in two frequency bands.
“Our HSPA+ service which runs in both 850MHz and 2100MHz allows our subscribers to get stable signal reception, faster download speeds, and better battery life wherever they may be in the country,” said Peña. “This is especially useful for subscribers who use smartphones and tablets, as these devices consume large amounts of data and battery power,” he said.
For more information about Smart’s 4G products and services, visit www.smart.com.ph or follow the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SmartCommunications.
Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is the Philippines' leading wireless services provider with 47.7 million subscribers on its GSM network as of end-September 2011. Smart has built a reputation for innovation, having introduced world-first wireless data services, such as Smart Money, Smart Load, Smart Padala and the Netphone. Smart also offers 3G and HSPA services. Its Smart Link service provides communications to the global maritime industry. Smart Broadband, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, offers a wireless broadband service, Smart BRO, with over 1.5 million subscribers as of end-September 2011. Smart is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Philippines' leading telecommunications carrier, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. For more information, visit http://www.smart.com.ph.