The new iPad will work on local 4G-LTE network, Smart confirms

The iPad is shown during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 7, 2012. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

MANILA, Philippines — Prospective buyers need not sit on the fence anymore: leading telecommunications firm Smart Communications confirmed on Thursday that the newly released 4G-powered iPad tablet would work on its LTE network as it ramps up commercial deployment of the next-generation mobile network this year.

With the announcement of the new iPad from Apple which comes with a 4G-LTE antenna capable of delivering speeds of up to 100 Mbps, Filipino early adopters were curious whether the speed boost would be relevant in the Philippines, where there is no commercial LTE service rolled out yet.

Some have also pointed out that it is not clear whether local networks could support the new iPad’s LTE feature, since the band used for the AT&T and Verizon versions of the tablet in the US could be different from the LTE band to be used by local telecom firms.

In a statement, Smart’s Chief Wireless Advisor Orlando Vea clarified that the telco is “taking the lead in the country” in terms of 4G-LTE deployment, as it gears to make its entire mobile network LTE-ready by mid-2012. To date, Smart is the only telco in the country to have begun implementing its own LTE network.

“Anticipating this development, Smart has taken the lead in rolling out its superfast LTE network, the true 4G network, in various points of the country,” Vea said.

To date, Smart has fired up several LTE base stations in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Boracay, Camarines Sur and Baguio, and has been beta-testing the said stations since November 2011.

Additionally, the Pangilinan-led telco had also deployed more than 1,500 HSPA+ sites nationwide. The new iPad has been designed to deliver up to 21Mbps of download speeds on HSPA+.

While local release of the new iPad has yet to be announced by Apple, Vea said it “could be made available locally sooner than expected” given that the country is one of the few in the world to have a working LTE network.

“There’s a ready market for the new iPad in the Philippines and Smart is the only wireless services provider in the country with a working LTE network,” he added.

Apple will be releasing the new iPad in some key markets by March 16, including neighboring Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Expanded rollout will begin by March 23, while global shipments are expected soon after.

The new iPad tablet features a high-definition Retina Display, an A5X chip that provides quad-core graphics, and 4G-LTE wireless data connectivity, among other specifications.

It would retail for $499 for the base 16GB WiFi-only model, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB, and would come in both white and black variants.

The ones fitted with the 4G-LTE capability would cost $629, $729 and $829 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively.