Smart Communications, the wireless arm of the country’s largest telco by revenues, PLDT Inc., has announced its 5G mobile network will be commercially available in the main business districts of Metro Manila from today (30 July). The new network – services for which are marketed simply ‘Smart 5G’ – initially cover Makati Central Business District (CBD); the Bonifacio Global City CBD in Taguig City; Araneta City in Cubao, Quezon City; SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City; and the Mall of Asia Bay Area in Pasay City. Further, it revealed that Smart 5G is also being switched on at North Avenue (Quezon City), Taft Avenue (Manila), Ortigas CBD and Clark Green City (Pampanga province), with customers to its Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart post-paid plans invited to try out its ‘super-fast data service’ using Smart-certified handsets with a suitable 5G SIM card.
Commenting on the launch, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president/CEO, Alfredo Panlilio, said: ‘The launch of Smart’s 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilising the next generation of mobile technology. For our customers, it opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying video, playing esports and using more powerful digital services.’ In the disclosure he went on to note: ‘As we roll out 5G in more areas of the country, this will complement the deployment of our 4G LTE network, which is already the fastest and most extensive in the country. To date, Smart 4G LTE and 3G coverage serves 95% of the country’s population.’
The launch announcement follows President Duterte’s public threat to PLDT and rival Globe Telecom to shut them down if their ‘lousy’ services do not improve before December, although PLDT-Smart public affairs spokesman Ramon Isberto said the move was always ‘part of our step-by-step rollout plan for 5G’.
PLDT has also increased its 2020 CAPEX budget to PHP70 billion (USD1.43 billion) to support the rollout of its 5G network in Metro Manila and across other parts of the Philippines – higher than the PHP60 billion it announced in May. It claims to have spent almost PHP260 billion over the past five years to help bring its 5G launch to fruition.