For me who constantly go on the road or fly off to a destination somewhere, I always try to make sure I’ll have a reliable way to connect online since a big part of my work involves the internet. My usual mobile office activities are monitoring my own server where my blogs are hosted, updating them, my run on my favourite social networking sites like facebook and twitter and sometimes random image submissions on requested stock photos for some publications. I have been reliant on location wifi hotspots and most especially to my mobile broadband connection, so when Smart invited me with a few other bloggers to experience their new Smart Evolution LTE Mobile Broadband technology in Boracay, I was excited, since anything that’ll make my time more productive is always welcome.
What is LTE?
LTE is a new mobile standard that can deliver download speeds of up to 70mbs. That’s roughly 30 times faster than regular 3G. It’s a true 4G technology as it is possible to upgrade its speed up to 100mbs unlike Wimax or HSPA+ which tops at 30mbs. It is dubbed LTE or Long Term Evolutions as this technology is “future proof” as its infrastructure was designed from the ground up to handle massive amounts of data.
Boracay island is the first destination where Smart deployed the LTE. It’s an ideal place since it’s developed well enough with a good cosmopolitan crowd who likes to work and play at the same time. Currently its central signal location is at station two near the Bombom Restaurant where we held our initial test. First test was to try a direct connection to LTE via a Huawei unit. As promised, it did deliver on its blazing 70+mbs download speed via speedtest.net. Hannah’s TekTok Show Youtube archive and surfing videos downloaded in a cinch.
The other test is via a USB dongle connected to laptop. Speedtest showed a varying speed of 40-50mbs which is already speed heaven to us internet geeks. Patrica Hizon watched this documentary on Vimeo in full HD without lag while Dodge checked out this 1 hour and 30 minutes movie Night of the Living Dead in youtube and for only a few minutes it already buffered ¼ of the whole movie while watching the first part. Really impressive!
Over dinner we also tried the LTE delivered through a wifi router. On my mobile phone, pages loaded faster than on my normal 3G packet data connection. On a laptop, I usually have different tabs open while loading regular pages, with LTE speed; I found the pages almost fully loaded already before I could open a tab. Now this is a cure for my surfing ADHD
Test Video Capture
We were each lent a dongle to test it out on different locations of the beach. While I’m so lazy at that time to roam around we decided to test it on a cabana at Estacio Uno where we were staying and found out the signal reached all the way on this part of the island past Willy’s Rock. Some important notes on this video captured test though. These were not the optimal conditions like our test at Bombom’s. The tech guys said the LTE signal is optimized only up to Astoria Hotel and we’re a few hundred meters way past it. It’s already surprising I got very good results on the doing test on websites I usually frequent like my blogs, Facebook and the image intense Flickr. And yeah, don’t mind my reflection on screen.
Since this is still on a pre-launch phase, I wasn’t surprised with some minor glitches like the dongle not working on my netbook so I borrowed Dodge’s macbook. There were initial instances that the connection has to warm up but once it gets going the speed will just blaze through. Speaking of warming up, the USB dongle heats up but the tech guys said it was normal and can be connected on the laptop up to 9 hours. While the download speed is indeed fast, the upload is a different story. At the bombom area upload is up to 15mbs while out of the optimal zone, I only got 1mps upload speed but that’s still better than average. I’m pretty sure they’ll smoothen things out when it’s officially launched.
Impression on the LTE
Smart LTE delivers what it promised which is blazing fast internet connection that would really spoil us hyper-connected people. I’m sure once this is commercially rolled out on key cities around the country, this would be useful for us constant travellers. Imagine online videos with almost no lag, sending and downloading large image files while on the move and ultra-fast loading on our favourite websites. It would surely help increasing productivity and finishing some work so we could enjoy places like Boracay even more. Now we’ll just have to wait for Smart to deploy in key cities in the Philippines, price tag, plan and availability.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.