Smart improves LTE coverage in Boracay

MANILA, Aug  7 -- Smart Communications has further improved its mobile Internet coverage in Boracay Island using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

In a statement Monday, Smart said  in its partnership with Huawei Technologies Philippines, four component carrier (4CC) in Boracay have been successfully activated reaching speeds averaging 280 megabits per second (Mbps) in initial tests using software on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, which are smartphones that have capability for the technology.

Initial tests have also achieved promising speeds of up to 400 to 500 Mbps via 4x4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) technology on a live and loaded network in Boracay using the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and software that is available to users via software update. 

“This is just a preview of what can be achieved using the network that Smart is currently rolling-out and continuously improving throughout the country,” Mario Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network and Engineering Planning, said.

Smart has been implementing its rollout of LTE and LTE-Advanced network upgrades in the country’s major urban areas such as Metro Manila, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

LTE-A has a capability called “Carrier Aggregation” (CA), which allows it to combine two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users. 4CC aggregation features the combination of four separate spectrum blocks to deliver much greater capacity and speeds. 

Like CA, 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM are also technologies that help increase speeds. For instance, the 4×4 MIMO capability uses four antenna ports to transmit and receive data between the base station and smartphone. With 4x4 MIMO, data transmission rates can be quadrupled. 

The mobile network provider rolled out the country’s first LTE-A service in Boracay April last year amid the rise in demand for bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming and gaming.

Since then, Smart has also successfully activated the network’s 2CC and 3CC carrier aggregation capabilities. 

LTE-A base stations were also deployed in Metro Manila, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Davao where subscribers with LTE-A capable SIMs and handsets can stream TV shows and movies without buffering and play online games without lag, among other possibilities.

The ongoing LTE and LTE-A rollout is part of a broader effort to improve overall quality of service available to Smart subscribers. LTE, which provides the best mobile experience to users, is easily upgradable to LTE-A and LTE-Advanced Pro or Gigabit LTE, and lays the foundation for the coming of 5G in 2020.

The current network improvement activities in Metro Manila aim to improve indoor LTE and 3G data signal, as well as indoor 3G and 2G voice signal.

Smart is targeting to expand the number of municipalities with LTE coverage to 783 by the end of this year, about half of the three-year target of 1,551 municipalities by the end of 2018. (Aerol B. Patena/PNA)