Smart Communications Inc. is further developing its 5G offering through the preparation of its network for carrier aggregation (CA) features, which essentially allow the telco to combine various frequencies to provide more seamless and faster mobile data services to its subscribers.
Arvin L. Siena, who heads the technology strategy and transformation office at PLDT Inc., said Smart has successfully tested 5G CA, making it one of the first operators in Asia Pacific to test CA in a live 5G network.
“With the right 5G CA-capable phones supporting these frequency bands, customers will be able to have two bands of 5G in addition to the LTE bands, enabling even higher speeds and better performance, especially for applications that have very high demand for data, such as Augmented Reality [AR]/Virtual Reality [VR] and streaming of high-definition videos, for example,” he said.
In a nutshell, CA combines two or more separate bands of radio frequencies to create a bigger pipe for even faster data rates, increasing the capacity thus improving the overall user experience. Smart is currently using CA for its 4G services in various areas in the country.
Smart and partners Ericsson and Huawei tested 5G CA using the mid band 2.6 gigahertz (GHz) and 3.5 GHz frequencies through a Huawei 5G fixed wireless access device.
It also tested 5G CA on low-band 700 megahertz (MHz) and mid band 3.5 GHz through a Huawei Mate 40 Pro 5G smartphone. Mid band frequencies provide higher capacity, while low band frequencies provide wider coverage.
Smart has been conducting 5G tests since 2016. It introduced its first 5G service in select cities and provinces earlier this year.
Currently, Smart’s serves 5G in the following areas: Makati Central Business District (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, Mall of Asia Bay Area, North Avenue in Quezon City, Taft Avenue in Manila, Ortigas CBD, New Clark City in Pampanga, Edsa, strategic locations in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and the cities of Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Taguig, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Parañaque, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Navotas, San Juan, and Pasay.
Smart’s 5G push is part of PLDT’s commitments to further improve its networks, which are now being used widely for distance learning and remote work due to the pandemic.
PLDT is investing P70 billion in capital expenditures for 2020, and is increasing the amount to as much as P92 billion in 2021 “to meet the requirements of mobile and fixed line customers.”