MANILA, Philippines — Dominant telecom firm Smart Communications on Friday virtually confirmed support for Apple’s new iPhone 5 under its LTE network, as it announced the addition of a third band under its pool of LTE frequencies.
Smart executives, however, were quick to skirt answering questions related to Apple’s new smartphone, reflective of the high level of secrecy imposed by the technology giant on its industry partners, including telecom firms.
Ramon Isberto, public affairs head at Smart, however issued a blanket remark to reporters’ persistent questioning, without directly answering iPhone-related questions.
“We will support all LTE-enabled devices running on our LTE bands,” Isberto said.
Smart’s LTE network, the only commercially launched LTE service in the Philippines thus far, runs on both the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands.
On Friday, a third band has been added by Smart that will operate on the 850 MHz frequency. It will be used as an “umbrella” frequency, executives said, because it has higher and farther propagation properties than the other bands.
According to Apple’s detailed specifications on worldwide LTE support, its A1429 GSM model specifically manufactured for Asian carriers will support the 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 850 MHz frequencies.
Smart executives, however, refused to confirm official support for the iPhone 5, despite apparent compatibility with the sought-after smartphone.
Roland Peña, Network and IP Systems head for Smart and mother company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., however clarified that even though a device’s LTE chip is compatible with a telco’s LTE frequencies, some features and applications may not be compatible.
“Vendors and operators in other countries may have installed certain restrictions on the phone,” Peña explained. “That’s why users must ensure that devices are fully compatible with the network.”
This is why the carrier is encouraging users to purchase their LTE-enabled smartphones from telcos to ensure compatibility with the LTE network.
Smart, however, has yet to announce the launch of the iPhone 5 in the Philippines. Hong Kong and Singapore are among the countries in Asia that will receive the new iPhone first on September 22.
The new iPhone measures a mere 7.6 millimeters thick, and tips the scale at just 112 grams, or 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S. The dock connector, as earlier rumored, has been reduced to a 9-pin module and will be called “Lightning.”
The iPhone 5 will also feature an A6 processor, a significant upgrade from the iPhone 4S’s A5 chip, and will deliver “twice the performance across the board,” according to Apple’s Phil Schiller.
Apple said it is looking to deploy the new iPhone to 100 countries in over 240 carriers by December 2012.
New iPhone 5 models will retail in the U.S. for $199, $299, and $399 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively, along with a two-year standard contract with carriers.