BORACAY, Philippines – It’s summer so it’s no surprise that last Wednesday, April 13, the Philippines’ party island was as busy as ever. As usual, clubs and eateries along the white sand strip were open ‘til the wee hours of the morning, filled with recent graduates, yuppies looking for a quick getaway, and vacationing tourists.
That night, there was another cause for celebration on the island: LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) was finally launched in the Philippines by Smart Communications.
Smart's launch party called “The Next Wave” took place at The District and apart from the ubiquitous drink in hand and lively conversations, it was the demo gadgets that kept guests transfixed. Influencers and members of the press were given the chance to play with gadgets like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Gear VR, not only to test the gadgets' impressive features but to show just how much better the experience would be with ultra fast internet.
Check out our 360-degree capture of the launch:
Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
When asked about the reason behind this momentous move, Smart’s Senior Vice President for Network Mar Tamayo shared that it’s more than just showing what they can do, but providing Filipinos with what they need.
Tamayo said: “It’s really born out of our desire to improve customer experience. The needs of the subscribers or the market is fast evolving. They want higher speed, they want real time, and they want a lot of things... For Smart, it’s really not just a technology play, it’s really how we make use of the available technology today… to [make it more] advanced, and let people experience that change. The change can also have an impact on how they do things. If it will not have an impact on what they do, then it’s just a technology show, but that is not the motivation of what we’re doing.”
After the launching, guests were treated to food, drinks, and music from DJ Inno Naguit
So how fast is it?
Check out the download speed of #SmartLTEAdvanced! How fast can this be? A video posted by Rappler (@rappler) on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:16am PDT
A quick speed test will show you that LTE-A can reach a speed of up to as fast as 250 mbps, almost 3 times faster than the LTE network currently available. To put it in perspective, LTE-A will allow you to download a 10MB file in less than a second. This is made possible by what is called carrier aggregation.
Ramon Isberto, Smart and PLDT’s Head of Public Affairs, explained what makes it work: "Carrier aggregation is not unique to 4G, you can also do it on 3G, but LTE is different and superior… [with] its ability to handle multiple bandwidths. [It] is simply much better than the previous platforms."
Isberto assured that this move to improve the Filipino’s internet experience isn’t a linear one. LTE-A is here on our shores, but according to Isberto, Smart will continue to improve on other wireless technologies like 3G and LTE.
Good user experience and high speed also isn’t just about the network but includes other factors like what gadgets are available in the market. “The ecosystem’s becoming more complex, the gadgets, the devices are becoming more and more important. So for example, in this particular case, if you want to enjoy this service, you have to have a device that’s LTE-A capable,” Isberto added.
Productivity and entertainment
Many will welcome the faster Internet speed that LTE-A may provide, as it will be useful for work-related tasks such as video calls, downloading files, and staying connected on the go.
Love watching on iFlix? Try #SmartLTEAdvanced to make your streaming experience faster! A video posted by Rappler (@rappler) on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:59am PDT
But it’s not all work and no play. Entertainment is at the heart of the reason why Smart decided to push for LTE-A's availability to a wider market. Videos are now a huge part of the Filipino's daily Internet diet,thanks in part to Facebook’s new autoplay feature and the arrival of movie streaming services like iFlix. “That’s why we need to roll out this kind of service; you need a faster network in order to handle the anticipated rise of video traffic in the country,” Isberto explained.
With LTE-A technology, videos load faster with no buffer time, whether it be a 30-second recipe video on Facebook, a 5-minute tutorial on YouTube, or a 2-hour film on iFlix.
There’s no better time for this feature to come to Philippine shores than today. According to Smart Brand Head Kathy Carag, the country is rapidly becoming mobile-centric: “You could just look at various third-party research and studies that show that accessing internet via mobile would double quarter after quarter. Even smartphone penetration has also increased tremendously or significantly in the past year. And as the prices of smartphones go down, more and more people will start to consume internet through their phone. And now, there’s just so much to do [on mobile] because that’s how people socialize, that’s how people create and get entertained,” she said.
For now, LTE-A through Smart is only available in Boracay, but it is due to be rolled out in different parts of the country in the coming months. – Rappler.com