Thursday, 16 July 2009

Philippines' Smart begins WiMAX rollout

Business Mirror

SMART Communications Inc. has taken its first steps to massively deploying WiMAX technology across the country.

The country’s leading wireless services provider has undertaken tests of the powerful wireless broadband platform with equipment manufacturer Motorola, paving the way for rapid rollout of the new network. Motorola is the principal contractor for Clearwire Communications, the leading provider of mobile WiMAX service worldwide.

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a telecommunications technology that provides wireless broadband access to a wide area spanning several kilometers.

Smart’s WiMAX deployment, through its subsidiary Smart Broadband Inc., is part of the company’s efforts to replicate the success it achieved in cellular phones in the field of wireless broadband Internet.

“It has been our vision to provide Internet for all Filipinos—no matter where they are or what device they’re using,” said Orlando Vea, Smart chief wireless advisor, in a statement.

He added that Smart is set to build one of the most extensive WiMAX networks in Southeast Asia for fixed wireless broadband applications.

Smart’s WiMAX network will complement its high-speed packet access (HSPA) network, which is based on the most advanced mobile broadband technology. Smart is one of the only 20 mobile carriers in the world and the only in the region to have deployed HSPA running on 850 MHz.

“With our HSPA, WiMAX and Canopy networks blanketing the whole country, Smart will have a unique and, by far, superior combination of wireless broadband networks,” Vea said.

Smart’s WiMAX network will be a key component of its Internet For All initiative, including its schools connectivity program. Under the Smart Schools program, the company has connected 250 public elementary and high schools to date.

In partnership with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, Smart has connected an initial batch of 50 public high schools and is now working with the Department of Education in a program to provide connectivity to about 6,600 public high schools across the country.

WiMAX uses the 802.16 standard developed by the WiMAX Forum. It provides a maximum bandwidth speed of up to 70 megabits per second, which is apt for data-hungry applications like streaming video.

Since WiMAX covers a wider distance and serves more users at any given time while allowing high- speed data access, it can reach to ”blackout areas“ that currently have no broadband Internet access. It can enable Internet penetration even to the most remote barrios and barangays.

“We will make sure no Filipino family is left behind in terms of Internet access. We have done it with the mobile phone, we will do it again with the Internet,” Vea said.

To date, the company has about 8,700 cell sites across the country, housing various network equipment, including antennae for GSM, HSPA and Canopy. Very soon, these same towers will play host to Smart’s extensive WiMAX network.

For the trial, Smart and Motorola installed the latter’s WAP 450 WiMAX Access Points equipment to a number of cell-site towers across the country. The WAP 450 utilizes tower top power amplifiers that can be housed in a small cabinet, allowing for a compact cell-site configuration.