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The Irony of LTE Advanced




Smart is rolling out their LTE Advanced network already in the Philippines to deliver faster mobilke data to its users. This is done through “carrier aggregation”, which allows specific phones to use its multiple radio frequency bands to achieve increased bandwidth and bitrate.

In a recent OpenSignal survey, Smart got better LTE average speeds compared to Globe. Yet, the 7Mbps for Smart and 4Mbps average LTE speeds of the two are both at the bottom of the charts.

LTE-A promises mobile speeds of up to 260Mbps. That’s the good news, right? Faster data speeds. The bad news? Well… theoretically, more for us to pay for.

lte a

First of all, not all phones are capable of connecting to LTE Advanced. You should first check if your device features LTE Cat. 6 or higher, and that’s only most of the flagship phones released by well-known smartphone companies today. To put things into perspective, only the iPhone 6S line and iPad Pro is LTE-A ready in Apple’s portfolio. You want to use LTE-A? Get a flagship phone more or less.

List of popular devices that support LTE-Advanced:
iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus
BlackBerry Priv, BlackBerry Passport
HTC One M9, HTC One A9, HTC 10
Huawei Ascend Mate 7, Mate S, Mate 8, Honor 6, Honor 6 Plus, Nexus 6P
LG G Flex 2, G4, G5, Nexus 5X, V10
Moto X Style
Lumia 950, 950 XL
OnePlus 2
Galaxy Note 4, Note 5, Note Edge, Alpha, A5 (2016), A7 (2016), A8 (2016), S5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, S7 Edge
Sony Z3, Z4, Z5, Z5 Compact, Z5 Premium, Xperia X, X Performance
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro, Mi 5

Second, it’s no secret that mobile data caps has become the standard usage model here in the Philippines. We have only hundreds of MB of data for use in promos, and “unlimited” surfing caps us for as low as 1GB in some cases. If you get 260 mbps through LTE-A, technically, you can reach your 1GB cap in under 31 seconds (1,000 MB = 8,000 megabits, 8,000 megabits / 260 megabits per second = 30.77 seconds).

This is like driving a Ferrari along the entire stretch of Roxas Boulevard at 4am on a Sunday morning — all 7.6km of it.

Faster speeds at this point is not really needed, and in my opinion, the funding of expanding into LTE-A should have just been allocated into better networks that won’t congest – if this is truly the purpose of data capping. One benefit of carrier aggregation is that single cell tower now supports up to 260Mbps to allow more people to connect without suffering from the usual congestion the old 42Mbps LTE network was restrcited to.

Our advancement in mobile internet should not be defined by the maximum theoretical speed of the connection but by how much we can actually consume at an affordable cost.

It might be a different case here in the Philippines, but an analysis done by Arstechnica in 2014 tells us that data capping is more about profits than it is about network congestion. They’re not the only source who tell us this, but giving our carriers the benefit of the doubt, it still tells us that to some extent, the data capping in the country could be improved – and yet, here we are advancing technologies that aren’t as needed yet without solving the existing problems that we face today.

I’ve been saying it since 2013,  and we’ve even followed up on more ideas in 2014 — there just isn’t enough pressure on the telcos to give us more of what we need – because really, we just need decent to good connections, more than sufficient data to use, and lower prices. LTE Advanced only addresses the former.



Bob Freking occasionally contributes articles to the website. He is a UST Graduate of Commerce & Business Administration, Major in Marketing Management, and a full-time Sith Lord with three dragons.

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32 Responses

  1. XY says:

    Profit before People..
    Well Telco’s doesnt give a sh*t about its customer anyway, nothing new.

  2. deuts says:

    The best article we’ve read from Yugatech for a while!

  3. pong says:

    eh paano pang suhol yung pera na yan kaya happy sa kanila ang mga kurakot na mambabatas

  4. 2pe says:

    this all marketing BS of telcos,saying they already have this kind of technology but real world usage is always crap. We do not yet need this, what we need is a reliable fast connection, even if its just 26mbps out of that 260mbps.

  5. TheWunderDog says:

    Same old bulls8 from telcos, you cannot enjoy the speed anyway, few youtube 720p videos, aaaand, that’s it. You’re capped.

  6. DuRiam says:

    Good point. I’m sure many would agree too with your opinion.

  7. jk says:

    lagot yan lahat kay Du30. humanda yang put*ng *nang telco’s yan..

  8. Easy E says:

    Kahit 3g speeds basta guaranteed at walang data cap. Tsk tsk

  9. Scott says:

    This is really PR spin doctoring and marketing by the Telco. Many other countries have much better LTE infrastructure and speeds on the existing technologies without the need to upgrade to another derivative of LTE. I’ve in countries like Thailand the 3G speeds and reliability are far better than SMART or GLOBE. So really you are being conned that to get better speeds you need to buy newer handsets.

    If you want to understand the state of global LTE look at this report from OpenSignal – http://opensignal.com/reports/2016/02/state-of-lte-q4-2015/

    Hint look for Philippines near the bottom of all charts.

  10. A says:

    Really shows how bias yugatech. Good news turned to bad light when it comes to Smart. A real puppet of Globe!

  11. LTE-A for 30seconds… LOL… para pag survey malaki ang ave data speed nang pinas.. hahaha

  12. Alvin says:

    Philippines have a crap internet services because it reflects how corrupt our goverment is. If only we have a good governance in the Philippines then things will be different. Laws on internet service has too much loop holes thats why ISPs are slower than a snail. XD

  13. Enya says:

    Nice read young boy!

  14. Philip says:

    My smart 4g speed
    Paying 1500 monthly
    https://upload.vstanced.com/images/2016/04/14/Screenshot_2016-04-11-20-35-42.png
    [img]https://upload.vstanced.com/images/2016/04/14/Screenshot_2016-04-11-20-35-42.png[/img]

  15. mi says:

    how i wish there would be a GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED ISP, which partners up with other ISP and uses MERALCO infrastructure…

    i guess plan999 would go to a good 5mbps atleast…

    ewan ko lang kung hindi magbabaan ang rates ng mga ISP ngayon, palibhasa almost-monopolized nila ang ISP sa pinas -_-

  16. P says:

    I welcome LTE-Advanced with open arms. That means I could browse Instagram and Facebook faster. I could watch the occasional HD videos in Youtube faster.

    I never really reach my data cap. I have a 9-5 work so I only really browse during my free time. And also I don’t use my mobile data for downloads.

    I have an unlimited DSL plan for that. Can’t afford a DSL plan? THEN STOP BITCHING ABOUT MOBILE DATA CAPS.

    • James Reed says:

      Smart/Globe/PLDT employee spotted! haha, I missed the point, MORON!

    • arvinoids says:

      This is the kind of mentality that sustains these incompetent telcos of ours. I welcome a new government that would allow outsiders to compete with these abusive bastards, then we’ll see if they survive.

    • MRT now costs P500 per TRIP. But I don’t use it because I have my PORSCHE and FERRARI for that. Cant afford a FERRARI? Then stop bitching about the MRT fare.

      See the fault of your logic? Fcking dumbass.

    • Oliver Swanick says:

      Wow really? People like you are the reason why this country is still in third world. Are you contented with your 3-8mbps dsl connection for a exorbitant price? Why settle for it if you can get 10x faster with fiber optics at the same price? Look at Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia. They have much faster and cheapest internet package.

      inb4 the poster is an employee/sympathizers of these greedy telcos

  17. P.A. says:

    Part 1. Dahil Mahirap gumawa ng long post sa yugatech.com. :(

    Believe me, I ABSOLUTELY agree with the OP, pero kapag nag rent ka ng Toyota Corolla mula sa AVIS, hindi mo pwedeng gamitin yun bilang Uber o dalhin sa sand dunes ng Ilocos Norte. Sa tingin mo pwedeng gawin ang kahit anong gusto mo kasi kaya mong bayaran, pero HINDI MO PWEDENG GAWIN ANG GUSTO MO KAHIT HINDI DAPAT PORKET KAYA MONG BAYARAN!

  18. P.A. says:

    Part 2

    Realistically, ano bang gusto niyong gawin sa LTE A ng Smart? Torrent ng The Force Awakens 4K? I live stream ang whale spotting sa Sorsogon? Hotspot para maglaro ng DOTA 2 sa Steam? Sobrang tempting abusuhin at gawin ang sa tingin mo ang magma maximize ng LTE A nila. Pero ikaw nagpapasarap pero ang mga masaya na sa medyo madalas na Snapchat, Tumblr, at Instagram naiipit at napagiinitan dahil sa mga kagaya niyong gusto gawin ang LAHAT. I know na dapat mas maluwag at accomodating ang mga network sa data plans nila at may government Accountability, pero takte naman INAABUSO NAMAN NATIN KAPAG NAPAGBIGYAN TAYO EH, kaya pumapangit sa lahat!

  19. Mark says:

    I’ll just go to be my nitpicking self and point out some of the points you make.

    First, the way you use LTE Advanced feels like it’s an entirely new thing. Per Wikipedia (and its sources), it was standardized on March 2011 with Smart starting to demo the tech on August 2013. Again, per Wikipedia, “LTE is the natural upgrade path for carriers with both GSM/UMTS networks and CDMA2000 networks.” Consequently, any pre LTE Advanced network (e.g. releases 8 and 9) would *naturally* upgrade to LTE-A. FWIW LTE-A is just another release in a continually evolving standard (http://www.3gpp.org/DynaReport/36913.htm), only that it is given a fancy name. The main point here is that it is a very good thing that Smart is going for this absolutely no-brainer upgrade path for their network. This is them keeping pace with the technology, though I am certainly wanting more from them.

    > Well… theoretically, more for us to pay for.

    Nope! See https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/commequip_annual_industry_price_table.htm (from https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/commequip_price_indexes.htm). See the “Wireless (cellular) networking equipment” column. To interpret see http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpifaq.htm#Question_11 . Prices of telcom equipment are getting lower! As with other electronic products! I am certain Smart does have some sense to allocate a reasonable share of their budget on upgrades, and even if they keep expenses constant (hence increasing profits), upgrades would never ever exceed their budget allocation, e.g. if they’ve been buying the same product lines on a a regular basis, the only change on what they pay is that it goes down over a period of time. The “better tech, pay more” point is moot.

    > First of all, not all phones are capable of connecting to LTE Advanced.

    Doesn’t mean they should stop upgrading their network. In the same vein goes the meaty one…

    > Faster speeds at this point is not really needed, and in my opinion, the funding of expanding into LTE-A should have just been allocated into better networks that won’t congest

    You’re wrong. LTE-A *is* a (the?) way for them to have better networks that won’t congest. And if we’re citing Ars here, read http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/03/faster-mobile-broadband-driven-by-congestion-not-speed/ . 4G and its major candidate LTE is all about capacity. Speed is just one good effect of the improvements it makes. Now you may argue, how about building more of what they have? The naivety of this reasoning is what’s getting Smart flak on the wrong side of their evil empire. First, 4G/LTE is much more scalable than 3G/2G. That is, if they’re building new sites, they should go on building LTE sites as the tech (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-UTRA) is much more spectrum efficient and there’s really no point in going 3G/2G-only unless capacity suffices (read: nope). However, it is more practical (and perfectly reasonable) to augment their current 2G/3G sites with 4G.

    We’re seeing smartphones continually devour marketshare, and with Qualcomm and the likes starting to offer LTE even on their lowest-end stack (e.g. https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/processors/212). It’s only in a matter of a year or two before we see a Cat 10 (LTE-A) modems on lower-end devices (we’re about to see them on lots of upcoming midrangers). Of course the larger part of the consumers would buy them, and by then at least we should thank Smart for doing the right thing.

    Now data capping is an entirely different issue. We’re all blaming the engineering effort that goes into their network for the greed they have on the money side of things. Call me a shill, but I am a shill* that does his research.

    * I’m not.

  20. hee hee says:

    Capping especially for mobile is becoming the global industry standard. Im not saying its any good but to take it all against smart/globe is just plain stupid. Also, LTE/A is just an access technology. It doesnt necessarily mean the telcos will offer it at the max speed. For example, currently LTE can already reach 100+ mbps but you’ll see it often advertised as 42mbps because the backhaul is limited. Smart in a most of their cell sites have only 50mbps backhaul. Pretty pathetic.

  21. willard says:

    Fuck smart and globe! Lte nga. May data cap nmn….

  22. Kiko says:

    Sir yung lte 260mbps is fr cellsite to handset na broadcast. Meaning ng broadcast is shared by alot of handsets. Yung handset naman is merong limit din depende sa unit. Pagkaalam ko 30mbps to 50mbps pa ang kaya ng pinaka mahal na handset. For 3g naman or 4g na hindi lte, the cellsite is capable of 21mbps lang broadcast to be divided to all users.

  23. Kiko says:

    If you want to watch an hd movie of 1gb or 1000mb kalaki at 100 mins or 6000 seconds yung video, you only need 1000mb/6000s or 1/6mbs para mapanuod yun via streaming. So in real world applications 1mbps is more than enough to watch a live nba game. The congestion really happens sa interconnection ng mga website servers going out of the country or interconnection between globe n smart. Try nyo speedtest.net papuntang u.s.a na server kung makuha nyo ang 1mbps.

    • Oliver Swanick says:

      haha ever heard of bitrate? 1mbps = 1000 kbps = not suitable for HD streaming. HD streaming requires at least 5 mbps connection. why watch live sports in 1 mbps? what are you watching 240p video?

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