Smart aggregates five carriers to hit 1.4 Gbps in LTE-A test

Smart aggregates five carriers to hit 1.4 Gbps in LTE-A test
Huawei product manager Daniel Peng (right) points out to Smart executives Mario Tamayo and Ramon Isberto the gigabit-speeds achieved by the tests using carrier aggregation. Source: Smart Communications

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications says it has successfully achieved data speeds of 1.4 Gbps during a test of LTE-Advanced technology by aggregating five carrier frequencies.

In a series of laboratory tests carried out this month with strategy and technology partner Huawei, Smart says it successfully combined five component carriers using Carrier Aggregation – i.e. the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds – to consistently achieve data speeds in excess of 1 Gbps.

“Through these tests, we have demonstrated that we are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of mobile broadband customers,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor.

“It will take time for carrier aggregation on five frequencies to be deployed, largely because capable handsets are not yet commercially available. But the excellent results of these tests have encouraged us to roll out LTE-A using two or three component carriers which can already be utilized by several handset models in the market,” Horn said.

Commercially available LTE-A capable handsets include Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 6s and 7, and Huawei P9.

“LTE-A is the sharp edge of our efforts to bring high-speed mobile internet throughout the country through our LTE deployment program. LTE facilities, with strengthened transport links, can be quickly upgraded to LTE-A,” Horn said.

Smart’s efforts to boost its mobile internet capacity are complemented by PLDT’S ongoing deployment of fiber and high-speed DSL fixed line technologies which are also capable of delivering one-gigabit speeds.

Last April, Smart fired up the country’s first LTE-A base stations in the resort island of Boracay. Combining three component carriers, Smart achieved peak speeds of 250 Mbps on a single-user basis in a live network.

Today, Smart’s network on the island involves a multi-band LTE setup combining the 850-, 1800-, 2100- and 2300-MHz frequency bands. This delivers average speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

LTE-A base stations will soon be activated in major urban areas such as Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila – which Horn said is part of Smart’s three-year plan focused on expanding LTE coverage and bringing high-speed internet service to 95% of the country.

“We are accelerating our LTE deployment because this provides us the platform to deliver faster, more reliable, and affordable internet services throughout the country,” added Horn.

In the three-year network roll-out plan that parent company PLDT submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last July, Smart said it is focused on rapidly deploying LTE, to make it available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end of 2018.

This new rollout plan includes the use for LTE of the 700-MHz frequency band that Smart obtained access to under a co-use arrangement as a result of the acquisition of the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) by PLDT and Globe Telecom last May.

Smart is also using the 850-MHz band to expand its LTE coverage. Low-band frequencies like the 700 and 850 MHz have longer range and better indoor penetration. These enable Smart subscribers with compatible phones to have strong and stable internet connectivity in more areas, even when indoors.

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