Smart Comm. sent out a release to the media earlier last week announcing that they will be 100% LTE-ready by mid-2012. That’s certainly good news considering that we’re just actually talking about HSPA+ coverage in the past months.
As one of the early beta-testers for Smart’s LTE roll-out, I can definitely say that there’s a great deal of difference between LTE speeds and what we’re commercially experiencing now (I am subscribed to a SmartBro Power Plug-It 999).
I am told this Huawei LTE dongle costs around Php15,000 in the market.
However, the news of 100% LTE-readiness doesn’t offer much hope. It like saying that a telco is 100% 3G-ready yet half the time you don’t get to see a 3G signal in your area?
If the network is 100% LTE-ready, it means that all the base stations are equipped to broadcast at LTE frequency. That means at anytime, they can just turn it on and you have access to super fast mobile internet speeds.
Question is, will they turn all of it ON? Not likely.
That’s because it requires additional cost to run them. If the demand in an area does not justify turning on LTE, then it won’t be activated in that base station. This is what they did with 3G, WiMax, etc so they’ll do the same with LTE.
Turning it on requires that the backbone can provide the bandwidth. It could be fiber, it could be a dedicated line or just some additional bandwidth. For remote islands, it could be satellite.
As such, the cost of providing this cutting-edge technology to Philippine consumers will certainly be higher. The pricing is said to be volume-based and that means you buy access by the bucket (a bucket of 1GB at a time perhaps). I am pretty curious though how much that bucket of bandwidth will cost. If it will be anywhere within the vicinity of how they priced SmartBro Rocket (which is Php200 per 180MB), I don’t think anyone’s gonna bite. I never used SmartBro Rocket since my first trial (bought the prepaid stick for Php3,995).
LTE sure does offer pretty amazing speeds. I’m just worried no ones going to try it out for the long haul because it will be as expensive as SmartBro Rocket.
I’ve sent out some questions to the folks at Smart and hopefully get all the answers I needed to share with everyone.