Friday, August 16, 2013

Smart Prepaid LTE: How to Avail, Upgrade, Load to iPad and other Important Information

Smart, being the first to launch the LTE service in the Philippines among many other firsts is also the first to introduce Smart Prepaid LTE for mobile phones. They are making the LTE service available to a wider segment of market with this move as so not to discriminate giving the LTE service for postpaid users but also to prepaid users as well.

As per writing, they have 100,000 pieces of Prepaid LTE sim cards for mobile phones available for sale via various channels (Smart stores, telco tiangges etc) and they have currently placed orders for additional stocks. To cope up with the increasing demand, they are continuously doing the necessary upgrades to make sure the infrastructure and hardware in place will be ready for it. Currently, their LTE coverage is supported by 71,000 kilometers of total fiber footprint with 1,000+ LTE sites nationwide. Greater Metro Manila area are mostly covered and currently expanding.

This move was pushed by the decreasing price PLUS the increasing number of LTE capable handsets combining with their efforts to make LTE available to almost anyone. (Check out Smart's LTE capable handsets)

Below are important information you should know with regards to the Smart Prepaid LTE service. (FAQs)
Upgrading your current Smart Prepaid Sim to Prepaid LTE Sim
A lot of people have been asking this question. What if you want to keep the same Smart Prepaid number you've been using and change it to a LTE sim?

Good news! You can upgrade your existing Smart Prepaid sim to a Smart prepaid LTE sim and keep your number! Just go to your nearest Smart store and for a small fee of P40, request for an upgrade to Prepaid LTE sim.

But, if what you have is a Smart Bro sim, you cannot upgrade to a Smart Prepaid LTE sim. Smart released a Smart Bro prepaid LTE sim around 4 months ago but that is a Smart Bro Prepaid LTE sim. The difference is, you cannot make calls using the Smart Bro sim but you can using the new Smart Prepaid LTE sim. Check out the images below so you can compare a Smart Bro Prepaid versus a Smart Prepaid sim. Bottomline, Smart Bro is Smart's mobile data service and Smart Prepaid is for Smart's call and text plus data service.


Will my gadget get LTE signals when we upgrade to the new sim?
Basically, If your gadget (tablet or phone or mobile wifi) is a LTE capable gadget, upgrading to the new Smart LTE prepaid sim will enable you to connect to their LTE network. The next question would be is if your LTE phone is compatible with Smart's LTE network. Currently, if you have a LTE gadget using the 2100mhz band (check the specifications of your gadget), you can connect to Smart's LTE network. So if you are buying your gadgets from the grey market, better double check as not all imported units can connect to the LTE band we have here. (I will double check the list of bands that Smart is catering to and update this FAQ) 

If your gadget is not capable to connect to the LTE network, upgrading to this new sim will be useless but you can still use the upgraded sim because the LTE network will depend not on the sim but on your gadget's hardware. In short, it's not as easy as a sim upgrade or software upgrade for you to be able to connect to the LTE network. It also depends on your hardware.

Here's what the Smart Bro Prepaid LTE sim packaging looks like:
They are selling the Smart Bro Prepaid LTE sim for P350 because it comes pre-loaded with P320 worth of credits. On the packaging of the Smart Bro LTE prepaid sim, you can actually see that you can avail of the 7-day unli access by texting 'LTE to 299'. If you prefer to use the 1 month LTE package, I suggest that instead of using the 'LTE 299', use the 'LTE 995' and send to 2200. Just add around P675 + 10 worth of load. Here's why:

Existing pre-loaded credits = P320
LTE for 30-days                = P995
Load needed to avail of the 30 days LTE is 675 + 10 = P680

But just to be sure, load up around 685 pesos so there will be a 10 peso credit allowance so your credits won't zero out which might result to an unusable subscription. I said 'might' because I haven't personally tried this out yet and based on older prepaid subscriptions for call or sms, you must maintain a P1 balance. But just in case I accidentally use it for SMS or whatever reason, I have a P10 peso allowance in which I can also use the next time I will subscribe to the LTE bucket.

Here's what the Smart Prepaid LTE sim packaging looks like:
Here's what they released yesterday. The big difference as mentioned before is, with these new Smart Prepaid LTE sims, you can make calls, SMS and get data services. The great news with the prepaid sim is that you can also subscribe to SMS and Call packages. Meaning, all the call and text offers you are subscribing to before can also be applied here. The main difference is, you will be able to connect to the Smart LTE network.

Retails price for the:
Smart Prepaid Micro Sim  dual-cut is P40 (includse 35 All network SMS)
Smart Prepaid Nano Sim is P100 (includes P50 load credits)


Difference when subscribing to Smart LTE packages and unlimited internet packages
It doesn't necessarily mean that you have a LTE capable sim and gadget, you would be able to automatically connect to the LTE network. You still need to subscribe to the LTE service. Currently, there are 3 packages available for the prepaid LTE whether for Smart Bro or Smart Prepaid:


Data Package Price Validity How To Subscribe
LTE 50 P50 1 day Text LTE 50 to 2200
LTE 299 P299 7 days Text LTE 299 to 2200
LTE 995 P995 30 days Text LTE 995 to 2200

I'm sure you're also familiar with other internet packages like 2 days unlimited internet for Php 85 or the usual 1-day unlimited internet for Php 50. Although it's priced the same, subscribing to ANY other internet packages other than the "LTE" packages as mentioned just above this paragraph won't allow you to connect to Smart's LTE network. Subscribing to NON-LTE packages will only allow you to connect to their 3G and HSPA+ network.


Will I also get 3G signals if I subscribe to the 4G LTE packages?
Simple answer is yes. Subscribing to 4G LTE packages will also allow you to connect to their 3G network. Why? In case you go to an area with no 4G signal, you will automatically revert back to 3G and once 4G is available again, you will go back to 4G.

Complicated answer is 'depends on your gadget settings'. Some gadgets allow you to connect to specific frequencies. For example, my LTE mobile wifi has this choice whether the signal it will connect to is only 3G or 4G or automatic. If I set my settings to '4G only', once I go to a place with no 4G signal, it won't get any signal at all. But, if the settings is in automatic mode, from 4G, it will revert back to 3G and vice versa without the need to do anything or shut down the device. It is automatic.

So technically, yes. 4G to 3G and back to 4G is possible if you subscribe to one of the 4G LTE packages.

But in case you subscribed to a LTE package using a non-LTE capable device, you will still enjoy 3G/ HSPA+ speeds.

What if I double-subscribe?
This is an age old question and not all people know the answer to this. According to the people from Smart, they have this new queuing system for Smart Prepaid. Let me give you an example.

Today, August 16, I subscribe to the 1-day LTE package. So I text 'LTE 50' and send to 2200. What if I accidentally texted it twice? Because of the queuing system, your 2 subscriptions won't expire at the same time (in this case, August 17). By texting it the first time, my subscription will expire the same time tomorrow (August 17). Since I texted it twice, it will now expire on August 18.

But, there are limitations. You can only do so for a limited number of times. Why would you do that intentionally? Well, for some gadgets, it's harder to subscribe compared to when using a mobile phone. For example, when using an iPad, you cannot do SMS and subscribe to the LTE package you want. You can do that though via my.smart.com.ph (Loading to an iPad to be discussed later). But what If I'm really lazy and I want my iPad to have unlimited LTE access for 3 months? Can I load the value needed for 3 months worth of LTE and text it all at the same time? I haven't got the info on how many subscriptions you can queue up but rest assured I will update this blog as soon as I get information from them.

How to subscribe to LTE packages when using a tablet (iPad or Android)
There are several ways you can do this with Smart. Manual SMS, Smart iOS/Android app or MySmart portal.


Subscribing to LTE data packages for your iPad or Android tablet via manual SMS
1) Remove the LTE sim from your iPad or Android tablet
2) Insert it in ANY regular mobile phone
3) Choose the LTE package you want (For example 'LTE 995' is the keyword for 30-days LTE)
4) Text 'LTE 995' and send to 2200
5) Wait for confirmation via SMS that your subscription is successful
6) To double check, log-in to MySmart and check out your subscribed package by clicking your account. (To be discussed later)
*Another way to check is by texting '?1515' to 214 (free). You may also visit Smart Menu and choose 'Prepaid Balance' (also free)

Subscribing to LTE data packages for your iPad or Android tablet via iOS/ Android app
1) Download the Smart Services App
iOS - https://itunes.apple.com/ph/app/smart-services/id586863833?mt=8
Android Market - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=smart.services.android.widget
2) Open the Smart Services App
3) Click on "Internet"
4) Look for the subscription package that you want and click
5) To check if registration is successful, log-in to MySmart and check out your subscribed package by clicking your account.
*Since most tablets cannot receive SMS, you won't be able to receive confirmation via SMS whether your subscription is successful or not. To check, log-in to MySmart instead.


Subscribing to LTE data packages for your iPad or Android tablet via MySmart Portal
*If you haven't registered your Smart Bro sim or Smart Prepaid sim to MySmart, register first.
1) Log-in to my.smart.com.ph
2) Go to the account that you want to use (Prepaid)
3) Click on 'Avail packages' on the left side menu
4) Click on the 'Smart Online Store' link
5) Choose the package that you want
6) Confirm and proceed
7) Choose the mobile number that you want to apply the chosen package to and click 'confirm'.
Note: Payment will be deducted to your airtime load for prepaid or billed to your postpaid account. At least 1 peso load must be maintained to enjoy the service.

You know what's the best thing will all these Prepaid and Postpaid offers? You will all get the same service! Unlike what I've tried before using another network where Prepaid and Postpaid data connection speeds differ, you don't have to worry about that with Smart. This is from my personal experience.


From the press briefing, they also mentioned that this will be the last of the series of LTE news from Smart. I highly doubt it but on second thought, we've heard some insider news that they are now currently testing the newer LTE. The LTE advanced and Smart has it. They said that LTE Advanced is capable to reach 200mbps! Now, that's some seriously super fast bandwidth and I can't wait to try it out! Check out this speedtest (209 mbps ftw!!!) and article about the Smart LTE Advanced testing:
http://cebu.businessguide.ph/smart-lte-advanced-huawei/

For more information on,
Smart Prepaid LTE Sim- http://www1.smart.com.ph/prepaid/sim
Smart LTE coverage - http://www1.smart.com.ph/bro/lte/coverage

Cheftonio
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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, last friday i went to smart head office at ayala to have my 10 years old sim to be upgraded to LTE. Surprisingly i got my sim upgraded for just 40 pesos. Now im registered to LTE for 7 days, im using samsung galaxy S4 korean version. My problem so far, when im connected to 4G i dont have the signal bars and cant make outbound call and text - but i can surf at blazing speed. But when im out of the 4G area, and reverted to 3G thats the time my call and text service will work again. Is it normal that when you're connected to 4G, you may not be able to get a signal for call and text feature? Im a techie person, and i played all my network settings but that doesn't help me. Im wondering maybe, its the setting the way they upgrade my sim in their system?

Dennis Siva said...

I cannot subscribe via web using on both PC browser and ipad browser.. anyone who is also experiencing this?

yamats said...

The Smart LTE sim upgrade clearly says prepaid. But when I went to Smart center of SM North EDSA last august 30, the Smart employee that i asked about it said the upgrade is only for postpaid subscribers. How come?? Is the LTE sim upgrade not the same for all their stores or the employee was just making up her own rules?? I just left the store feeling disappointed..

Anonymous said...

Thanks :) this has been very helpful.

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