Mostly Everything

“Real world” SMART LTE speed test (they secretly reactivated the beta SIM cards — ahihihi)

OK so this is funny. I heard a rumor that the LTE SIM cards were reactivated in time for SMART’s launch tomorrow. It so happened that I *forgot* (I really did!) to return my LTE SIM + USB dongle to Abbie Real and Meg Ruiz.

While waiting for a meeting I decided to unearth the USB device and plug it into my MacBook (running Windows 7). Turns out, the rumor mill was true — the telco had re-activated the SIM cards! Usually, you’d get a registration error when connecting to the mobile helper. I guess there are indeed rewards to those who … don’t forget to return their beta devices. Ahihihi.

As I write this post I’m downloading (a legitimate copy of) the newly released Counterstrike: Global Offensive via Steam. For the past 2 days I’ve been trying to download the 4.x GB file only to encounter suspended downloads and restart errors which is typical for new games being released via the Steam store. Well guess what? LTE works!

So here are the stats:

The Bonifacio Global City area is covered by LTE signal. Indoors I am not experiencing full bars — but 2 bars of signal gives me about 10-15mbps download speeds which translates to roughly 1MB/second. See the photo above. Before hitting publish on the blog post, I went in to check the download and I’m now at 49% completion which is basically 2.0GB of the total 4.x GB in less than 10 minutes. I’m streaming one HD films on Vimeo in the background.

After about 7 minutes:

PLEASE NOTE: Though I was a SMART beta tester and have SMART as an advertiser on my blog, this speed test isn’t endorsed by SMART at all. In fact, I’m not even supposed to have this USB device. Oops. To Meg and Abbie, sorry for forgetting to return! I’ll buy you J.Co. Anyway, it’s fast naman eh! =)

Disclaimer #2: I’m currently using the beta USB dongle from HUAWEI. I’m not sure if this is the same one they are launching LTE with. This is the LTE test a day before the official launch.

Mostly Everything

SMART LTE Launch Plan: PHP 3500 for 10GB per month; comes with USB dongle at 42mbps

The cat is out of the bag (also, I apologize for the many updates with SMART). Though not officially announced by SMART Communications, the pricing for the highly anticipated LTE was leaked yesterday in some blogs. I was able to confirm the pricing scheme as well with people from SMART and it seems that the strategic leak worked quite well to their advantage — SMART was on Engadget earlier today.

Again, LTE stands for Long Term Evolution which marks the true beginning of the next generation of mobile Internet for everyone. If 3G brought about mobile apps usage like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it is exciting to see what LTE can bring about.

The August 25 launch (everyone is invited!) will announce the current pricing scheme:

– LTE will debut in the Philippines at PHP 3,500.00 per month
– it will already come with a LTE USB dongle for free; early last year we confirmed the price of the USB dongle was somewhere in the PHP 10,000 range so yeah, you’re saving ten grand by subscribing
– the USB dongle will be capable of speeds up to 42mbps; this is the same (if not similar) dongle I used during the beta test period. Note that 42mbps is the maximum capability of the dongle but the network can handle, technically up to 100mbps. That’s 100 megabits per second. To know the difference between megabits and megabytes, read my primer.
– the initial offering caps data at 10GB per month.


To be honest I was actually surprised with the sub 4k price point of LTE. Pundits were expecting SMART to launch the service in the PHP 5,000.00 area or thereabouts and this can only mean that with a relatively low price point for LTE, it can only get more affordable from here (either by increasing bandwidth or by making it even cheaper or by offering new handsets once they arrive). The Philippines is one of the first countries in Asia to have this sort of Internet and it’s exciting to see what the next 6 months will be like.

Mostly Everything

A look into SMART’s prototype LTE Dongle by HUAWEI and my first speed test

Greetings from Boracay! I was able to borrow a special LTE USB dongle from HUAWEI. There are only 5 of these in the world made especially for the event and from what I heard HUAWEI really had to rush these to SMART. I have one of the four (oh wait I think Jen Juan also has one). The others are being used in stations around Boracay, shared over WiFi. You may wonder why we’re on the island. It’s because ever since before, Boracay has become a test bed for new technology. I was here in ’07 for their Mobile TV launch and now I’m back for their LTE deployment.

The USB dongle is in no way a representation of the final product. LTE will launch soon and will be deployed across the country. A bit of a technical info here: current SMART cell towers running 3G can easily be upgraded to accommodate LTE and later on, LTE Advanced. You will need “4G” enabled phones to access the higher data network so in the meantime, while the phones are not yet here, let’s be content with the dongle.

I will be doing a series of speed tests throughout my stay. This is the first.

From my hotel which is in a more remote location (and indoors) I am getting 15Mbps. This afternoon, the LTE booth was pushing 69Mbps (LTE promises 50Mbps) and while everyone was sharing over WiFi and stressing the network with HD video streaming, they did a decent ~ 30Mbps, which is still very fast.

Let me put into context what “fast” means. At my current speed I am downloading a 7GB game from the Steam Store at 290-400kbps, streaming the 720p HD version of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead without buffering (full screen) and uploading a couple of files (over 4GB) using my FTP to my server. Plus Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

So funny! It says “faster than 99% of the Philippines!”

By the way guys, Mbps is not MEGABYTES PER SECOND but MEGABITS. Here’s an explanation. It is confusing so if you still can’t tell the difference I would really just use real world examples which everyone can understand (like the actions I just made above).

I’ll be doing more tests tomorrow as I would like the “real world” challenges such as being indoors / outdoors to affect the performance of speeds. So far I am very content.

LTE dongles will have a separate price compared to the 3G / HSPA ones currently available in the market. LTE is backwards compatible but not vice versa. The name of the LTE service is SMART Evolution.

Oh, just one more thing. The LTE dongle runs on Snow Leopard as well. Here’s a shot of my MenuMeters upload/download: