MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Long Term Evolution (LTE), which allows for faster Internet connection versus 3G services, is now available for iPhone 5 users in the Philippines after the release of Apple iOS 6.1.
Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. on Tuesday morning both urged iPhone 5 users on their networks to upgrade to the new Apple software to be able to use the LTE service.
LTE, a fourth-generation (4G) service, makes it possible for users to connect to the Internet with as much as 42 mbps in speed. 3G services such as the HSPA+ can only provide up to 21 mbps in connection speed.
Smart and Globe deployed their LTE networks last year, with coverage initially available for Metro Manila users only. Since then, both firms have been expanding their LTE coverage in key cities in the country.
Smart's LTE is available in 10 cities in Metro Manila, and in select areas in Boracay, Cebu, and Davao.
Globe said LTE is offered in select areas in Makati, Manila, Pasig City, Quezon City, Taguig City, Muntinlupa, Mandaluyong, Cebu City, and Boracay.
After the telco firms made their announcements on Twitter, #SmartiPhone5LTE and #GlobeiPhone5LTE easily became trending topics in the Philippines, along with "iOS 6.1", "LTE", and "iPhone5".
While some users expressed excitement over the software upgrade and faster Internet connection, others took to Twitter their dismay over the networks' lack of coverage.
Popular blogger @FashionPULIS even posted a screencap of his iOS 6.1-upgraded iPhone5 showing his Smart-powered phone on LTE while his Globe-powered unit ran on "E" (3G Edge service).
Moreover, some users were thrown into confusion after finding out their iPhone5 handsets are not equipped with an LTE-ready nano sim.
User @RamonCarsido, for instance, said "Already changed my sim from the regular one to micro then nano and now theres a sim for LTE #wtf #whatsnext #notconvenient."
Globe says no extra charges for LTE
Globe said its postpaid subscribers on iPhone 5 can use "blazing mobile internet speeds of up to 42 Mbps" in LTE-covered areas without upgrading their plans or incurring extra charges.
However, subscribers do need to update to iOS 6.1 and use an LTE Nano-SIM on their iPhone 5.
"Even with LTE, Postpaid subscribers don’t need to incur additional fees or shift to a different or higher data plan just to enjoy the benefits of LTE. Globe is making LTE available to everyone on LTE-enabled devices regardless of their plan subscription," Peter Bithos, Senior Advisor for Consumer Business at Globe, said in a statement.