PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications has begun activating five-component carrier (5CC) aggregation in Marikina City, boosting the speeds achieved by LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) -capable devices to over 500 Mbps.
In a series of daytime tests done last week in a densely populated residential area of Marikina City using a Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone, which is a 5CC-capable device, Smart’s LTE-A network consistently reached data rates of over 500 Mbps, hitting 558 Mbps at one point.
“Our LTE-A deployment proves that we have a network that’s capable of providing unprecedented data speeds and world-class internet quality, and has enough capacity to efficiently meet the rapidly rising mobile data traffic,” according to Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice president for network planning and engineering at PLDT and Smart.
Bigger pipe for next-level user experience
LTE-A is the fastest, commercially available wireless technology for mobile data in the country today. In most Android smartphones, it appears as “4G+” in the part of the screen indicating the available signal, while iOS devices display it simply as LTE. Smart became the first operator to commercially deploy LTE-A in the Philippines when it fired up the service in Boracay in April 2016.
Carrier aggregation (CA), a major feature of LTE-A, combines two or more separate bands of radio frequencies to create a bigger pipe for faster data rates, and improve the overall user experience. Smart has deployed 2CC, 3CC, and 4CC in cities across Metro Manila, and in major cities in other regions of the country.
In its 5CC deployment in Marikina City, Smart has taken five bands and bound them together, providing extremely high LTE-A mobile data speeds to users with capable devices.
At par with other countries
Aside from CA, Smart is using two other key features of LTE-A, to deploy it initially in the country’s urban areas where there are predominantly more users of advanced devices, to slowly roll out to the rest of the country.
Smart uses 4×4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) in its network, which raises the efficiency of available radio frequencies by using multiple antennas for sending and receiving data, and 256 QAM, which enables the transfer of more data from a cellsite tower to a device with a very good radio condition.
With CA, 4×4 MIMO, and 256 QAM on its network, Smart is ramping up its LTE-A rollout, and is making a parallel effort to push more capable devices into the market.
“Along with our commitment to roll out LTE-A nationwide, more LTE-A capable devices in the hands of more users is the other half of the key that will lift the mobile data speeds in the country, and put the Philippines at par with the likes of Singapore and South Korea,” added Tamayo.
Smart’s LTE-A deployment is the sharp edge of a broader effort to blanket the country with high-speed mobile broadband. Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources to support this network transformation. Capital expenditures reached P40 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach P58 billion in 2018.