By Alexander Villafania
MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA – LTE (or 3GPP Long-Term Evolution) telecommunications infrastructure promises to be fast – at around 50 megabits per second (Mbps).
At that speed, one can download the entire Beatles library in five minutes or a 700 MB movie in about nine minutes.
LTE, often identified as fourth generation (4G) telecommunications, is rate to have speeds breaching 100 Mbps. Currently, at least 320 technology operators in 50 countries are in the process of providing or already have commercial LTE services.
But more than just faster download speeds, LTE will provide a place for new applications beyond human communications. In fact, LTE is one building block for evolving technology. It won’t be just the mobile phone or personal computer that will harness LTE; there is the possibility of home appliances becoming connected to the Internet.
During the recent LTE Forum organized by Smart Commmunications, executives from several technology firms put LTE squarely in the middle of evolution in technology.
The Philippines, being one of the countries about to introduce commercial LTE (Smart claims a launch date of August 25), is expected to see tremendous growth in applications beyond traditional voice and data communications.
During his presentation, Nokia Siemens Networks Head of Solutions Albert Nombres said that new applications designed for communications-related services would be among the key drivers for LTE adoption. These could include video conferencing, and photo and video upload and downloads.
Entertainment-related applications such as games will also be among the first drivers of LTE use in the Philippines.
“The use of social networks and multimedia applications will soar because a higher-bandwidth network would make it easier to connect to one’s social network and share anything from photos to videos,” Nombres said.
In addition, Nombres stressed that countries with higher Internet penetration tend to experience higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth of around 10 percent.
Meanwhile, Cisco Systems Chief Technology Officer for Mobility Dirk Wolter said this uptake in social networks will also require the presence of devices for people to connect.
As such, smartphones and tablet PCs are devices that will play a huge role in getting more people connected. The likelihood of more applications being developed for smartphones also increases as it becomes more feasible for most people to carry around smaller devices while remaining connected to the Internet.
“There are really huge opportunities for the Philippines especially when applications are developed targeting certain users. Each application can address very specific needs,” Wolter said.
And who would be these users?
Lawrence Macalintal, Chief Technology Officer for Ericsson Telecommunications said there are industry-specific services that can harness applications running on LTE. These include traffic surveillance, toll way management, vehicle fleet management, security monitoring, and rain and flood monitoring. Healthcare services can also tap into LTE especially for remote medical consultancy.
“We’re seeing a networked society where services become increasingly integrated and are easier to reach wherever you are,” Macalintal said.
One presenter, Yoshinori Yasui, senior technical advisor for Smart, shared the experience of Japan’s NTT DoCoMo after the telco started offering LTE services called “Xi” (read as crossy) in late 2011.
Yasui said that apart from giving faster Internet throughput compared to their regular Internet speeds (NTT DoCoMo’s premium LTE speed is 75 Mbps assured) , they released new services that was exclusive to LTE users, such as a cloud-based translator service that translated Japanese to other languages. What’s good about this translator software is that it does the translation in real time.
“Services like these can only be done with a fast connection. The Philippines can have these services as well and perhaps deploy applications unique to certain users,” Yasui said
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