Why I’m Skeptical

Smart Telecommunications published a press release saying that the company just ‘fired up the country’s first 5G network’.

Of course, I was skeptical because 5G supposedly won’t exist until the year 2020. A closer look at Smart’s announcement reveals that they are actually talking about LTE-Advanced – a 4G network standard that US carriers like AT&T labeled as ‘5G’.

Smart 5G LTE-Advanced Speedtest
This Speedtest result shows a 209.66 Mbps connection speed using Smart’s LTE-Advanced network.

LTE-Advanced or LTE-A is not 5G

LTE-A promises internet connection speeds from 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for a moving receiver and up to 1 Gbps for a stationary one. This is well within the range of a 4G network based on the definition set by the International Telecommunications Union-Radio communications sector (ITU-R).

A 5G network on the other hand doesn’t even have a clear definition that international organizations have agreed upon. One thing for sure is that it should be faster than 1 Gbps for a receiver who isn’t moving.

Smart’s LTE-A network achieved an amazing internet connection speed of almost 210 Mbps in several tests performed by the company since August 2013. However, they should not use the term ‘5G’ yet.

Even their LTE network does not actually meet what the 4G network standards set by ITU-R because you can only reach an internet connection speed of up to 42 Mbps. However, the ITU-R has already accepted these ‘3.9G’ networks and considered them as 4G as long as they provide an overall better experience compared to 3G.

I appreciate that Smart Telecommunications has these efforts to introduce newer wireless communications standards in our country but they also have the responsibility of explaining what these technologies truly are.