We spent some time with Smart’s LTE guys earlier this afternoon, eager to clarify what devices will work on the LTE network, and what won’t. Before we get into the nitty gritty of it, let’s some get some details out of the way. LTE works in several frequencies, much like GSM phones. Unfortunately, LTE devices only work on a certain band, which there are many. Each carrier uses a certain FDD (frequency division duplexing) LTE Bands, which, again, there are a lot (Smart tells us that there’s 28). An LTE device will only work on the same FDD LTE Band. Smart’s FDD LTE Band is Band 1 (2.1G) and Band 3 – (1.8G). The long and short of it is that if an LTE device is unlocked, conforms to the same band of LTE as SMART AND has a SIM card provisioned for LTE, they will be able to enjoy LTE on their mobile device.
There are a couple of carriers around the world which use the same LTE band as Smart. Orange, in France, use two LTE bands – one Band 7 – 2.6G and Band 3 – 2.1G. Telstra (Australia) uses Band 3 – 1.8G, as well as CSL (HK) and M1(SG). NTT DoCoMo in Japan uses Band 1 – 2.1G. Theoretically if you could get an unlocked, LTE device from any of these carriers that use the same band as Smart, it should work. But you shouldn’t do that. Why?
Smart tells us that carriers that use LTE have their own software tweaks in their devices, and that there’s a good chance that those tweaks may interfere with the normal, day to day use of the device. Another issue is one of multi-bands – remember, Smart uses two LTE bands, with another one, 850Mhz band (Band 5) on the way. No one carrier outside of Smart uses the same bands simultaneously – of the other telcos we mentioned, only one use two bands (Orange) and the second LTE ba. nd that they use is Band 7 (2.6G). If you ever take a compatible LTE device to Smart’s network, it will only work on one band, which is not an ideal setup – if one of the bands fail for some reason, there is no backup band. Smart’s soon to be issued devices (which they have not delved on, aside from the cryptic “soon”) will work on three LTE bands, so even if one fails, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Smart was tight-lipped about their plans for the iPhone 5, but they did show us their own iteration of the Nano-Sim, which could mean that an iPhone 5 announcement isn’t far away.