The Philippines’ largest telecoms operator by subscribers and revenue PLDT Inc. has signed an agreement with China’s Huawei Technologies to gear up for the launch of 5G technology in the country by 2020. In a recent visit to the vendor’s headquarters, PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V Pangilinan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei Philippines counterpart Jacky Gao Kexin to jointly conduct research and development on 5G in the Philippines. Under the MoU, PLDT Inc. and its mobile division Smart Communications will work with Huawei to shape the ‘strategic and commercial development’ of a new 5G ecosystem, while also identifying areas that need 5G technology, setting up an ‘innovation laboratory’ and developing a ‘showcase network’.
Ahead of this, however, and in response to government criticism over expensive and slow internet connections in the country, Pangilinan has confirmed that his company will work to future proof its networks. PLDT says it hopes to address its consumers’ worries by investing more in infrastructure that will support improved internet speed. ‘We are focused on ensuring that our current investments in network facilities will enable us to be ready with the necessary infrastructure foundation for 5G when it arrives sometime in 2020,’ said Joachim Horn, CTO and information advisor for PLDT and Smart. The mobile arm is in the middle of a multi-year, multimillion-dollar nationwide network expansion programme to improve its coverage and quality of service, particularly 4G LTE, with a major portion of its network expansion having been recently completed in Metro Davao. According to PLDT, its expansion rollout in Metro Manila and in Metro Cebu as well as the upgrade of PLDT’s fixed access networks are also well underway.