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Smart Re-brands Fixed Wireless Broadband Service

SMART Communications says it has decided to drop its old brand name for its fixed wireless broadband service "Smart Wifi" and use a new name, "Smart Bro."
"Smart Wifi was not extensively advertised. It was marketed below the line. So when the time came that this could be promoted using tri-media, we thought of coming out with a better brand. We're now giving it advertising push," Ramon Isberto, Smart spokesperson, told

Isberto said the new brand will "avoid the old name entirely," which was often confused with the wireless fidelity communication standard. Smart Bro uses a different kind of wireless communication technology.

"We could have done this [re-branding] earlier. Smart wifi brand did not really register with people in our market research. So this new brand gave us the freedom of movement given the alternatives," he added.

As of December 2005, Smart said that there are about 25,000 subscribers of its fixed wireless broadband since the September 2005 launch. This wireless broadband subscriber base accounted for 22 percent of the total number of broadband subscribers of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Smart, the company said.

The subscriber base has grown further in the first quarter this year, but Isberto declined to give details, saying it is currently a "quiet period" for the PLDT group.

The company noted that the number of its broadband subscribers has more than doubled to 114,000 in 2005 from 48,000 as of end-2004, the company added.

The deluge of users affected the fixed wireless broadband service of Smart in late 2005 leading to numerous complaints.

Following the incidents, Smart has announced the improvement of its customer service systems and processes.

According to the operator, the number of call center seats dedicated to broadband customers has been increased to 370.

Smart has also started improving its network, and is "currently improving network facilities by deploying advanced radio base stations and terminal equipment and installing upgraded routers." It has also expanded the wireless broadband network's core transmission backbone capacity up to 10 Gigabits (Gbps) per second and its regional backbone capacity to 1 Gbps.

International transmission capacity has also been increased significantly to further improve access to servers overseas, the operator added.

Napoleon Nazareno, president and CEO for PLDT and Smart, said the uptake in the service is apparent in rural areas where information and communications technology infrastructure has been lacking.

Smart said that it was rapidly rolling out the fixed wireless services in far-flung areas, integrating portions of the fixed wireless broadband network with the existing GSM cellular network.

Promising Internet connection speeds of up to 256 kilobits per second, Smart's fixed broadband wireless service allows people to connect to the Internet using an aerial outdoor antenna installed in a subscriber's home (usually located on the roof). This antenna establishes a direct "line-of-sight" to the nearest Smart cellular site offering the "strongest possible radio frequency transmission," thereby creating the "last mile" wireless connection to the Internet. The antenna can then connected to a subscriber's desktop PC or notebook.

The subscriber's antenna should have a clear "line-of-sight" alignment and be within a 1.5 kilometer. radius from a Smart cellsite.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), on the other hand, would now resell the Smart Bro brand in place of its "myDSL-W," a similar wireless broadband service brand.

First posted 09:57pm (Mla time) April 24, 2006
By Erwin Lemuel Oliva

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