Mostly Everything

SMART LTE official launch has a date: August 25 2012

If you were at the LTE forum today, the biggest news is that SMART Communications is finally taking their LTE service out of closed beta and into commercial availability this coming August 25 2012. There is still no word on official pricing and specific devices (the up and coming iPhone 5 is rumored to have LTE connectivity) but it seems that NTT Docomo, SMART’s partner will be providing the hardware because of the similarity in the spectrum (maybe phones and dongles — who knows?!). Here’s a short list of LTE enabled sites from the beta, which means that more are coming.

So that’s that. August 25 2012. A completely new spectrum. Completely new technology. Huge network overhaul.

Mostly Everything

LTE is just around the corner?

SMART LTE dongle

Is commercial LTE just around the corner?

OK so there are two parts to this story. The first part is based on fact while the other is chismis, but when you put both together, it sort of makes sense. So the story is that the First Philippine LTE Forum happens tomorrow, August 8 2012. If you look at the lineup, we have the following speakers:

Mr. Dirk Wolter–Chief Technology Officer, Mobility, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Ms. Carol Wan–Director, Business Consulting, Huawei Technologies Company Ltd.
Mr. Yoshinori Yasui– Senior Technical Advisor (Smart), NTT Docomo
Mr. Albert Nombres– Head of Solutions, Nokia Siemens Networks
Mr. Lawrence Macalintal—Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson Telecommunications, Inc.

The LTE forum comes at an “ideal” time, having heard rumors of the imminent LTE launch by SMART. This is really no secret as the telco has been working on a number of beta tests (I have been part of some) across the past few months.

Now the chismis: What excites me is that the rumored iPhone 5 will need to have LTE connectivity in order to compete with the market of powerful smartphones released by HTC and Samsung in the past few months. Is this their way of launching LTE into the smartphone space? This seems like a very tempting argument to make in favor of both the new data network launching very soon in the PH and a potential LTE-enabled iPhone that fits Asian standards.

Mostly Everything

The No Bullsh*t Speed Test of SMART’s LTE (Warning: Video is 25 minutes long)

There is a satellite station for the LTE booth located near my hotel. I heard that they degraded the signal to “divert all power” to the central booths where Rico Blanco performed. I got a bright idea. I decided to do a real speed test. What would happen if we had a degraded LTE signal (without shifting to HSPA) trying to go through several layers of concrete? I was at the Real Maris Hotel. The center stage is located near Aria in D’Mall fronting the beach. That’s relatively far PLUS the fact that my hotel room is located near the road. At the booth I am guaranteed over 50Mbps — that’s about 6 MEGABYTES per second. But in the real world, I don’t think this will hold true given location of you in conjunction to the cell sites and the number of users accessing the signal.

Also, what if we were pinging servers from the USA? Here’s a screenshot of what kind of speeds you are getting if your server is located in Washington and the sites you are accessing from the PH are not cached OR not being downloaded from a dedicated server.

So I ran back to my room, skipped a massage (haynaku), fired up my ScreenFlow and spent the next 30 minutes making this actual speed test. I promised myself that I would post whatever findings I had here — good or bad.

You be the judge!

Mostly Everything

Mbps is not Megabytes per second but “megabits” per second

N.B. If you’re knowledgeable about this subject, please leave a comment to refute or add to this post as we’re all trying to understand what makes good or crappy Internet.

One of the biggest confusions of consumers when purchasing Internet plan subscriptions is that they think Mbps means megabytes per second when in fact it means “megabits per second” and there’s a huge difference. It’s partly the telcos’ fault as they aren’t very gung-ho about these educational campaigns for consumers. I think they should start helping consumers understand what exactly “2Mbps” means in the real world application. Also they should start including a value called CIR or Committed Information Rate or the average bandwidth per x number of households in a given area. Now that’s useful!

Here’s a tool to help you calculate ideally how many kbps you should be getting with your Internet provider commitment.

In other words, if your telco is selling you a 2Mbps connection, your ideal burst speed (say you’re downloading a torrent) should peak at around 250KBps (that’s kilobytes per second not kilobits per second — remember that kbps is kilobits and KBps or KB/s is kilobytes). But that’s the best speeds. I don’t think it takes into account CIR. So if I’m using my Android phone on HSPA to tether Internet to my laptop and I’m getting 60-120KBps (which I got in Palawan since I’m probably not exceeding the CIR, but not in Manila which is definitely more dense), then it really could mean that my telco is delivering actual average speeds. Please, telcos, I think we should level up the way we communicate our Internet-related products as we move on to 4G technology! 🙂