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4G LTE: The Battle of the Two Telecom Giants

Written By Pinoy Tekkie on Linggo, Setyembre 2, 2012 | 3:08 AM

What exactly is LTE? LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is the fastest mobile Internet service commercially available as of now. LTE is the next step in wireless technology, and it’s expected to be the mobile broadband platform for new services and innovation for the foreseeable future. 4G LTE allows you to stream, download, upload, browse and game faster than ever before.

Watch the LTE 101 video prepared by AT&T: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjCvY4utV-o

Smart’s 4G LTE August 25 Launching

With advertised speeds of up to 42Mbps, Smart’s LTE Plan 3500, which comes with a two-year lock-in, certainly befits that description. Best of all, early adopters of the Smart 4G LTE connection are going to enjoy unlimited data until October 25. The standard gives you 10GB of data per month. You’ll be charged P450 per gigabyte beyond that, which is cheaper compared to the United States’ and other Asian countries’ rates of P500 and P700-P1,000 per gigabyte, respectively.

So digital pirates, rejoice! That’s two awesome months of limitless downloads for you. Sixty days in torrent heaven where unadulterated cloud-based content are the norm. More than 1,000 hours of cherry-picking US-based TV shows and Hollywood blockbusters, and pushing them to your hard drives ’til they choke. We’ll stop—because you know well where we’re headed with this.

The roll-out complements the deployment of parent company PLDT’s Fiber-to-the-Home fixed broadband service, which is capable of delivering speeds of up to 100Mbps.

Smart’s 4G LTE postpaid offer is initially available in key areas in Metro Manila and comes with a free Huawei LTE dongle worth P8,000.

The premium service is also going to spill over to smartphones this year.

Our thoughts on this future-forward wireless technology.
  • The company’s latest mobile Internet service is not for “torrenters.” With a 10GB limitation, the Smart LTE Plan 3500 won’t see you downloading all 1080p Avengers-related flicks. This is for people who need fast mobile Internet access when, say, presenting to clients.
  • For P3,500, though, Smart’s speedy connection is relatively more affordable than those in other countries.
    • United States – P500 for every gigabyte (10GB)
    • Japan – P2,100 for 3GB
      • As seen in the trend of 2G/3G services in the Philippines, we can expect LTE rates to go down with competition and advancements in telecommunications.
  • Take note that SKYbroadband’s 48Mbps and Globe Telecom’s Tattoo Torque’s 50Mbps connections charge you P12,999 and P14,999 each month, respectively. (The two services are DSL-based, meaning both require the traditional wired modem setup.) So again, Smart’s LTE Plan 3500 is still relatively cheap for a premium offer.
  • Regardless of the initial subscriber base, we laud Smart for having the balls to push the boundaries of wireless connectivity in the Philippines. Doing so puts the exclamation point in the classic chicken-and-egg debate: “In terms of introducing LTE in the Philippines, should carriers take the lead? Or should they wait for electronics manufacturers to make a move?” We’re tired of hearing this: “We can’t launch LTE-capable devices here because we’re waiting for any of our telcos to launch 4G networks.” Or this: “We’re waiting for manufacturers to introduce their powerful devices in the country.” Just launch it already! And now, it’s going to happen, thanks to Smart. Hopefully, the device makers would follow suit soon enough.
  • Consistency, not peak speed, is the key to any premium Internet connection. On any given day, we’d rather pay for something with real-world speeds in the 15-20Mbps range than a 30Mbps service that delivers only 10Mbps on most occasions. We still haven’t seen Smart’s advertised service-reliability numbers. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a percentage in the 90s.
  • All told, if Smart’s newest service sounds good to you, keep in mind that you’d have to check first if the telco’s LTE signal is strong in your household and in locations you’d usually visit. Examples of areas that have proven strong LTE signal are Makati (Greenbelt area) and Greenhills (near Promenade). If the reception’s poor, you should drop your “up to 42Mbps” aspirations altogether. Or at least until Smart stretches its LTE coverage over your most frequented areas.
Globe Telecom’s 4G LTE Launching in September

The battle for the Philippines’ best telco provider takes on a more advanced front and the state of speedy wireless-data access in the nation looks bright as day. Last August 23, Globe Telecom senior adviser for consumer business Peter Bithos announced that the company, through its Tattoo brand, will be joining the LTE fray come September 2012.

Globe was the first to introduce 4G WiMax and 4G HSPA+ services, and that will also be the first carrier to offer mobile 4G LTE—a network platform which provides superior data speeds for a new range of mobile phones and gadgets.

This network launch leverages the company’s modernization efforts with an additional 12,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable being rolled out to enable 4G LTE activation for majority of its cell sites.
Bithos explained that the 4G LTE network would focus on providing large contiguous areas of coverage, rather than just “hotspots.”

Globe will initially offer 4G LTE via broadband dongles. Head for external affairs Charo Logarta Lagamon, however, told us to expect smartphones by fourth quarter of this year.

At this point, this much is clear: The wireless service will be limited to products compatible with the telco’s 1800MHz frequency, the same spectrum utilized by LTE-ready countries Australia and Singapore. (So sorry to burst your bubble, Apple’s new iPad, which supports 4G LTE at 700 and 2100MHz, won’t benefit from this.)

The 4G LTE service, which will be available in Makati City at the outset, will focus on large, contiguous areas instead of ‘pocket activations’ and ‘hot spots.’”

This development is within the context of its service-modernization efforts—”the building of a new network on top of the existing one,” as company executives put it.

The upgrade will reportedly improve call quality between 25-100 percent and boost wireless access speeds by up to 3Mbps. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year or the first quarter of 2013.

Key commercial as well as residential areas in Makati City will be first to enjoy 4G LTE service, since the financial and business district posts the highest mobile traffic from residents and transients at any particular time, he said, adding that this service will be expanded to cover regions across Manila, and then Cebu and Davao, and select regions across the country.

At present, Globe has 2,700 4G base stations across the country.

With the August 25 launch of rival Smart Communications’ 4G LTE network, just two nights away, we can’t help but speculate how Globe’s announcement will affect Smart’s brand-new service. We’d also like to know how Smart’s LTE performance and initial subscriber base will make an impact on Globe’s LTE pricing.
Lagamon did imply that the company’s pricing will be attractive. She also suggested that we take a look at Globe’s more value-for-money iPhone 4S offer when the Apple handset was first launched in the Philippines—and take our cue from there.

*credits to TechLokal
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