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Smart rolls out LTE-Advanced mobile service in Boracay

Adrian M. Reodique | April 26, 2016
The LTE-A posted a speed up to 250 mbps in Boracay.

Smart Communications -- a wireless subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) -- has initially deployed its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service in Boracay, Aklan as part of its effort to improve Internet service in the country.

"Combined with our other network improvement initiatives for both our mobile and fixed line networks, the introduction of LTE-A will help boost Internet services in the country and enable more Filipinos to enjoy and benefit from the fast-growing range of digital services that PLDT and Smart offer," said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor of PLDT and Smart.

Prior the deployment, Smart conducted several tests of LTE-A in 2013 in Boracay during the Geeks on a Beach startup conference, Kadayawan Festival in Davao City, and in Makati City.

The LTE-A -- also referred to as 4.5G -- uses a capability called "carrier aggregation" that enables the LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth as well as faster data speeds to mobile users.

"Wireless technologies being a shared resource, the actual customer experience is typically less than the peak speeds being registered during tests.  But, carrier aggregation on LTE-A, by combining the capacities of two or more frequency bands, will enable Smart to deliver to subscribers with LTE-A devices consistently higher speeds than is possible using LTE.  In Boracay, we have combined three frequencies, which is a first in the country," said Horn.

The LTE-A posted a speed up to 250 mbps in Boracay.

With this new service, the coverage of Smart and Sun subscribers increases by 50 percent to 100 percent depending on the area. This programme also pays specific attention to enhance 3G/HSPA/HSPA+ coverage and capacity since about 90 percent of Smart and Sun subscribers go online using 3G handsets.

"Improving our 3G data service thus delivers immediate benefits to the largest number of people in our subscriber base. At the same time, we have been expanding the coverage of our LTE network because the number of subscribers using LTE phones is steadily rising," said Horn. "And now, we have also begun to deploy LTE-A. The pace of this deployment will be driven by several factors, including the rate at which subscribers start using LTE-A capable devices," he added. 

The LTE-A service is currently available to Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge and is expected to be completed by end of this year or early 2017. It was part of the P43 billion capital expenditure programme (CAPEX) of PLDT in 2015 and will be funded by the 2016 capex budget with the same amount. 


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