Smart LTE commercial rollout on Aug 25 among world’s first

Two days to go for Smart’s commercial roll-out of the much awaited LTE technology. The first LTE product will be an LTE capable Wi-FI dongle.

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has announced the official roll out of its LTE technology beginning August 25, making the Philippines among the early adaptors of the technology worldwide.

After GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies or also known as 3G, LTE is the next standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals that can support download speed of 300 mbps. The standard is developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and commercially available in the US, Western Europe and Japan.

By bringing LTE first into the country, Smart is ahead of most of its peers within Asia Pacific and among other countries outside of the US and Western Europe.

Dirk Wolter, Cisco Systems’ Chief Technology Officer, Mobility, APAC, said that Smart LTE roll-out in the Philippines will play a key role in making available Internet even to the remotest parts of the country.

“I see LTE connecting the unconnected remote areas. I see LTE providing that important service that is affordable for most people,” said Wolter.

Wolter underscored the importance of mobile broadband in the Philippines, where access to Internet has been increasingly done by consumers using their mobile devices as broadband service subscriptions for households remain low.

He said mobile penetration is nearing 100 percent and the number of mobile phone users is already as many as the country’s population compared to fixed broadband penetration.

“Here in the Philippines, the penetration on the fixed network side is not that high and mobile network is being used to connect to the Internet not only because people liked the mobility but because they have no other option of connecting to the Internet,” said Wolter, who spoke on the global trends of mobile data services and technologies at the recent LTE Forum hosted by Smart.

“Broadband Internet penetration is much lower and LTE will help bridge that gap between the very high mobile phone penetration and the very low broadband penetration. LTE would make up for that gap,” added Wolter.

He also said a new technology like LTE gets adapted a lot faster in countries with young population.

In the Philippines, intense use of SMS remains a fact as well as use social networking sites and this is partly because of a young population who are at with the technology.But for LTE to be viable, it needs an “eco-system” that includes making available LTE-devices that are affordable, stressed Wolter.

Part of the ecosystem is government’s participation, particularly on the regulatory side especially since LTE requires a huge amount of radio spectrum that only the government regulatory body could apportion to make technology to work at its best.

Wolter observed that the penetration rate for LTE is a lot steeper than what was seen for 3G technology. Over time, however, he said some countries would still be using 3G and CMTS technologies, but for most of the countries, LTE would be the preferred technology. He said LTE will surpass 3G in about five years.