Smart: SMC deal also means cheaper LTE phones, tablets | Inquirer Business

Smart: SMC deal also means cheaper LTE phones, tablets

/ 12:15 AM June 06, 2016

SMART Communications is in talks with mobile device makers to bring down the cost of LTE smartphones and tablet computers so more consumers can benefit from the powerful radio frequencies it recently acquired from San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

The development comes as the unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) starts deploying the 700 megahertz (MHz) frequency, one of the key targets of its joint acquisition of SMC’s telco unit with rival Globe Telecom.

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“Combined with other frequency bands, LTE on 700 MHz will help expand the coverage and enhance the capacity of our data network at a faster pace,” Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor, said in a statement on Friday.

The low-band 700 MHz provides better coverage within wide spaces and inside buildings. A part of SMC’s 700 MHz spectrum was transferred to PLDT and Globe via the 50-50 acquisition of SMC’s Vega Telecom last week for close to P70 billion.

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The next step was bringing down the cost of LTE devices, Horn said.

“We have been holding discussions with device manufacturers so that more affordable LTE smartphones and tablets using 700 MHz will soon be available in the country,” he noted.

LTE is a 4G mobile phone technology that currently provides the “fastest” wireless data service commercially available.

PLDT said about 45 percent of subscribers were already using smartphones, up from 30 percent in 2015. “The majority of these are 3G/HSPA handsets, but the number of LTE handsets is rising fast as the range of available models increases and the handset prices decline,” Horn said.

In its latest mobility report covering Southeast Asia and Oceania in the first quarter of 2016, Ericsson said total LTE subscriptions in the region was at 5 percent at the end of last year and was set to balloon to over 40 percent by 2021.

Ericsson also noted for this year alone, the region would have 100 million LTE subscriptions.

“Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand are among the countries in the region that are rolling out LTE and continuing to improve coverage,” Ericsson said. It noted mobile service providers would transition customers to LTE over the next five years.

PLDT has set aside about P43 billion in total capital spending for 2016.  It has allocated another $100 million this year to roll out additional frequencies acquired from SMC.

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TAGS: Business, LTE smartphones, News, San Miguel Corp., Smart Communications
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