PLDT targets 5G launch in H2 2019; Makati trials reach speeds of 700Mbps

29 Nov 2018

PLDT Inc. said yesterday (28 November) that it expects to have deployed its 5G networks in the Philippines by the second half of next year. Officials of the telco and its mobile arm Smart Communications told ‘Future Perfect Tech Shorts’ (broadcast on an ANC TV channel) that they plan to roll out the new platform in schools, techno-parks and business centres. PLDT-Smart president of technology strategy and transformation, Czar Lopez, was quoted as saying: ‘On 5G it’s not just about speed, it is also about greater capacity and also lower latency’, while fellow VP Mitch Locsin confirmed that the operator is allotting about PHP58 billion (USD1.1 billion) this year and next year for capital expenditure, to help achieve it. ‘The goal really is to have that heavy investment so that consumers will benefit,’ Locsin said, noting that PLDT is also upgrading its cell towers to accommodate 5G equipment, as well as adding more towers to accelerate the rollout of fifth-generation technologies.

The announcement of the 5G launch timetable came in the wake of the operator’s latest successful 5G tests this week, in which Smart said it was able to make the country’s first live 5G-to-5G video call. The call was made between the newly launched Smart 5G cities in Pampanga and Makati using 5G radio and core equipment of Smart’s partners Huawei in Makati and Ericsson in Clark. In a statement, the cellco said the tests showcased the ‘interoperability’ of the new system in a multi-vendor environment, adding that speeds of up to 700Mbps were achieved using Huawei’s 5G equipment in Makati.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month Smart Communications activated its first 5G cell sites in the Makati Central Business District and at the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) in Pampanga, Philippines. The move followed an announcement that PLDT and Smart are looking to create the country’s first 5G city in CFZ with Swedish telecoms vendor Ericsson and the Clark Development Corp (CDC).