Smart, Globe In LTE Race

Now, the race is on for the telephone company (telco) who can cover most of the country faster with super-fast fourth generation (4G) Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

Already, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has made its LTE service accessible in several areas across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao as it fires up new LTE cell sites and now covers a total of 46 cities and 69 municipalities nationwide.

Smart’s latest round of expansion is “the largest and most expansive” since the telco launched the service commercially in August, 2012, according to Smart Broadband Internet and Data Services Head Lloyd Manaloto. ”Just a couple of weeks ago we said that LTE has outpaced 3G in terms of initial deployment,” he explained. “The simultaneous introduction of LTE around the country is proof of that.” Several areas in Davao City in Mindanao, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Bacolod City in Visayas and Baguio City, Laoag City, San Fernando City, Cabanatuan City, Urdaneta City, Antipolo City, Olongapo City, Tagaytay City, and Dagupan City in Luzon now have access to Smart’s LTE service.

Rival Globe Telecom has also activated more LTE sites across the archipelago recently. After offering the service in Makati, Globe bolstered its LTE infrastructure in key cities of Metro Manila – Pasig City, Quezon City, Taguig, City of Manila, Muntinlupa City, as well as Cebu City and Boracay in Malay, Aklan in the Visayas.

Within these sites, the telco switched-on its LTE signal in major avenues, villages and subdivisions, business districts, upscale malls, hotels, busy commercial zones, government offices, schools, sporting arenas and hospitals. Globe wants subscribers go around contiguous areas without having to lose their LTE signal, President & CEO Ernest Cu stressed.

The telco’s LTE expansion will cover more ground across the Philippines as the first phase of its modernization nears completion and will be supported by the ongoing rollout of over 12,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable spanning the archipelago.

“We have continued to expand our LTE coverage as we focus on large, contiguous areas, instead of “pocket activations” and “hot spots” to ensure greater and more stable coverage for customers,” Globe Chief Technical Advisor Robert Tan elaborated further.

“SUPER Wi-Fi” Philippines

Due to scant broadband frequencies, the government plans to harness unused Television channels – White Space (TVWS) or ”Super Wi-Fi” – nationwide within 3 years to connect rural areas, schools and also for health, disaster migration, e-services and e-business.

Between them, Metro Manila and Cebu have 18 unused channels, with 46 percent of spectrum wasted.

Davao has 62 percent TV White space with 24 unused channels and the country’s rural areas have a total of 24-31 unused channels, or 62-80 percent TV White Space.

”When you turn on your TV to these unused channels, the set displays ”white noise” resembling snow, with a hissing sound,” according to Louis Napoleon C. Casambre Executive Director, Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) in a press briefing Friday.

”They carry no useful information and contribute nothing to the government coffers,” he stressed.

White space only served as ”guard bands” intentionally left unused to avoid interference between active channels but recent advances in TV technology removed the need for them.

Combined, all the white spaces in the country represent a bandwidth potential of up to 703 Megabits per second (Mbps) with a 378 percent growth potential from technology improvements, Casambre pointed out.

At present, only 47 percent of cities and municipalities have broadband access. Just 45 percent of high school and 2 percent of elementary schools have internet access. A mere 20 percent of households have Personal Computers and most families cannot afford broadband connection.

Already, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the use of TVWS in 2010 for data communications.

”TVWS is an ideal wireless data delivery medium for the Philippines, with its long distance propagation characteristics and the ability of its signals to travel over water and through several concrete walls or thick foliage,” explained the ICTO official.

Currently available TVWS equipment can deliver up to 6 Mbps of data throughput at a maximum range of 10 kilometers. They can have indoor antennas ideal for the uneven terrain in the countryside

TVWS will not compete with local telcos or cause interference. ”The telcos can participate in the trials,” Casambre clarified. ”We can a give a telco a free TV frequency if they price their connectivity service lower.”

Furthermore, TVWS will cost less than 10 percent of the cost of existing technology and can be installed in schools with TV antennas, removing the need for cell sites or towers.

However, at this point, TVWS is still in a pilot stage in terms of technology and policy regime. ”We plan to maintain constant consultation with various stakeholders. We still have a lot to do, but we are excited about what TV White Spaces can do for the Philippines,” he acknowledged.

Last year, TVWS was deployed in Quezon City’s science community, in the offices of government agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), DOST, ICTO, ASTI, Philvocs, Pagasa and selected public schools.

This year, the government is deploying the technology in Visayas and Mindanao’s public schools, tele-health and community centers. Specifically, it will be used in selected remote and unserved public schools as well as a fisheries project in Bohol.

Luzon follows next year. By 2015, TVWS should be deployed nationwide according to the DOST-ICTO roadmap.

Still, the government needs to draft the appropriate business model for the technology and resolve a lot of other issues, from spectrum availability, licensing, usage fee, interference to database ownership and enforcement.

GOOGLE Pilipinas

Google opened its Philippine office yesterday, January 23, 2013.

According to Google’s statement made on Wednesday, the new office is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to provide and improve services for its Filipino users, help the country’s businesses grow, both locally and globally, and tap local talent.

“The Philippines is a key country in Southeast Asia in terms of its digital economy and tech-savvy population,” Julian Persaud, managing director of Google Southeast Asia said in the statement. According to Persaud, more than 33 million Filipinos access the Internet regularly, and Internet usage is set to grow exponentially.

Manuel L. Quezon III, Undersecretary for Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning, who represented President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III at the company’s launch said he is optimistic that Google Philippines’ presence would lead to innovations.

Google Country Manager Narciso Reyes meanwhile said they see Google as a part of Filipinos’ everyday lives.

Reyes says in a press statement, ‘Our local team will be committed to providing better services to our Filipino users and to helping businesses – large and small – grow locally and globally, contributing to the growth of the Philippine economy.’

MMDA’s New Pair Of Eyes: Mobile Metrobase

Early enough for the Holy Week migration, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is enlarging its vision to traffic hotspots not comprised by its closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) with the help of its newly launched “Mobile Metrobase.”

A black Hyundai Starex van with customized interiors equipped with TV screens, a microwave antenna, and a camera capable of a 360-degree view, this is the agency’s newest pair of electronic eyes who was then presented by MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino last Tuesday.

“We just took advantage of the existing technology, equipment and software in modifying the vehicle to suit our needs,” Tolentino said.

The van is equipped with 5 TV monitors, 3 of which show feeds from the major networks, another is connected to a laptop receiving feeds from the MMDA’s CCTV cameras around the metro, and another screen is for the traffic navigator system.

Inside the van may be operated by a three-man force which consists of a driver and 2 technicians.

The van may be operated by a three-man team—a driver and two technicians.

MMDA chair said that it would be easier for the agency to position traffic officers or emergency rescue teams for accidents or calamities, since the monitoring is now on wheels.

“We could use this during protest rallies and processions, like the Quiapo procession,” Tolentino added.

“Since the images being recorded by the mobile Metrobase are in real time, the agency can issue alerts to motorists more efficiently.” he added.

The mobile Metrobase could be sent as far as Pampanga for monitoring since we rely on microwave technology.

The attached camera can zoom in clearly on an object about one kilometer away.

Manny Pacquiao buys a brand new Ferrari 458 Italia

(photo from PhilBoxing.com)

(photo from PhilBoxing.com)

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao recently bought a brang new Ferrari 458 Italia. The purchase came three weeks before his fight with Mexican boxer Juan Miguel Marrquez.

The price of the car, which is in color gray, is believed to be worth at least US$225,000 and is now parked at the Filipino champion’s apartment unit at the Palazzo in downtown Los Angeles according to Ed de la Vega.

Just a couple of days ago, the 8-time world champion was checking on a Mercedes Gullwing, which was being sold to him for $210,000. However, it seemed that he chose the 4,499cc V8 Ferrari.

Saranggani Representative Pacquiao is known for having a wide array of expensive cars. Among the high-end cars he uses while moving around Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Philippines include a Porsche, Lincoln Navigator, Escalade, Mercedez Benz and other SUVs which he and his escorts use for official government functions.

YouTube releases YouTube Philippines, the first in SE Asia

Google’s YouTube officially unveiled yesterday YouTube Philippines, the Philippine version of the online video sharing site. The Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia and 34th in the world to have this local feature.

It was through YouTube that Filipino artists such as Charice and Arnel Pineda gained world recognition and rocketed them to fame.

With the local settings, YouTube Philippines offers a local interface, retrieves and displays videos that are relevant to Filipinos.

Moreover, the video site also signed up with the local TV Partners such as GMA, ABS-CBN, and TV5, as well as the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (Filscap) and the multinational corporation Procter and Gamble to stream tv shows, videos and contents.

Company executives also disclosed that President Aquino will participate in YouTube’s World View live interview series where the questions come directly from citizens. Aquino will be the first Asian head of state to participate in the program on November 4.

Video sharing in the Philippine is one of the highest in the ASEAN region. The Philippine online population is even bigger than the actual population of most countries in Southeast Asia,” Julian Persaud, managing director for Google Southeast Asia, said

Adam Smith, head of YouTube for Asia Pacific, added that Filipinos upload tremendous amount of videos to YouTube – also one of the highest daily averages among Internet users.

The company also announced that opening of the YouTube Partner Program to enable regular video content creators in the country to become content partners and earn from the site through advertising.

Apple founder dies at 56

Banner of the Homepage of Apple.com

Screenshot of the homepage banner of Apple.com

The Apple co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs has passed away.

Jobs was known for his invention and discovery of sleek gadgets that transformed the technological landscape of the world. Among the products he invented were the personal computers, the line of iPod, IPhone and iPad.

The company’s website quickly changed its website with a photo of Job’s picture labeled “Steve Jobs 1955-2011″. Upon clicking the site redirects to a company statement that states “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve”

Steve Jobs suffered from cancer that started in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009. He made several medical leaves in the company until it lead to his official resignation last August.

Jobs started the Apple company with a high school friend, Steve Wozniak in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976. After 10 years he was forced to leave the company then asked to return in 1997. Since then, he transformed the company to what it is today.

Through Job’s vision and innovation, he transformed how human’s use computers – from a simple hobby to a “must-have” of the modern times.  With his products, Jobs also changed the music, computer, and cellphone industries.

Job’s last appearances were last March 2011 for the release of the iPad 2, last June 2011 for the iCloud program then the announcement of his resignation last August 2011 stating “always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come” and naming Tim Cook as the new CEO of Apple.

Anti-Angry Birds Bill bill a hoax

Following the controversial Anti Planking Act, Filipino Netizens again aired their sentiments over Twitter about an alleged bill that aims to ban products of the online game “Angry Birds”.

Dubbed as the “Anti-Angry Birds Bill”, the news went viral after a news was posted on a satrical website called “So, What’s News?”.  The article states that the bill will be sponsored by Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo who is also known as the representative who wanted to file the Anti-Planking Act of 2011.

According to the article, Castelo got the idea for the bill when he went Christmas shopping. Complaining over the popularity of Angry Birds in various line of products. “Everywhere I looked, ‘Angry Birds’ this, ‘Angry Birds’ that! Where is the product diversity? Shouldn’t the DTI be monitoring this?” the representative supposedly said.

“This is why this bill is even more important than my own Anti-Planking Bill. I hope that my colleagues here at Batasan will support this bill,” Castelo said, according to the website.

In a Facebook message to GMA News Online, Castelo said he finds the satirical Angry Birds Bill funny and amusing and claims the news is hoax.

“So What’s News?” is a website that aims “to inject humor into everyday news to provide respite to readers who have grown weary with mainstream news organizations’ partisan, biased, and depressing way of presenting the news.”

On the other end, informed Twitter users urged other Twitter users to check their facts and sources first before reacting and reposting false and unverified information online.

Apple sends invites for October 4th Media Event; hints new iPhone release


Confirming the rumors that have been circulating the web for months, Apple issued yesterday invites for media for a special event labeled as “Let’s talk iPhone”. The event will be held on October 4th at the company’s Town Hall Auditorium in its headquarters in Cupertino, California at 10:00AM PST.

Apple enthusiasts are already expecting the release of new products including the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5, new line of iPods including white iPod touches, and the release of new software such as the iOS5 and the iCloud.

There were also rumored reports that Facebook will be part of the event to launch its official iPad app.

Facebook changes angered online community

It was Wednesday when the world’s largest social network, Facebook underwent changes.  Then a few hours after that, raging online users started complaining and posted sentiments in their status bars and Twitter. Some of which were a fan page named “Petition against the new Facebook homepage” and a “#NewFacebook” hashtag over twitter. But Facebook users are known for complaining fiercely about changes to the service but then adapting and sticking with the online community later on.

Some online users even stated that Facebook’s changes was a move to level the competition with Google+ and Twitter.

Among Facebook’s changes are the following:
a. New “News Feed” that streams updates from friends now gives priority to important posts
b. Larger Images for photos shared in the website
c. A “Ticker” chat column was added for real-time conversations. It also allows people to engage in text chats focused on freshly uploaded images or other posts.

In the past weeks, Facebook’s strategy was to  focus on its members’ sharing control with what information and to whom it will be shared. The first act of Facebook on this new focus was a Twitter-style feed with the  addition of “Subscribe” buttons that let people hear from people who aren’t friends at the network, and share insights with strangers. Facebook also gave control to its members the option to select what kinds of updates from friends make it into their personal news feeds.

Other speculation about the upcoming Facebook changes are the launch of a platform for online music services such as Rdio and Spotify and also stories from professional news outfits.