NOW Telecom, the communications arm of Mel Velarde’s NOW Corp, has chosen Nokia as its preferred equipment supplier to roll out a Standalone (SA) 5G network and explore 5G use cases in the Philippines, as it progresses plans to launch nationwide fixed wireless access (FWA) and mobile services. Velarde, CEO and president of the operator’s parent company, is quoted by local press as saying the group has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the vendor as part of its strategy ‘to expand a current guaranteed service to high-end markets using 5G FWA and extend the customer experience to consumers through mobile’. He went on to claim that: ‘Having no legacy networks, NOW’s Standalone 5G network shall rise above competition’.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September this year NOW Telecom secured an extension to its provisional authority (PA) to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system. The extension, issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), can be utilised for 3G/4G/5G mobile technologies. The PA comes with a number of conditions, however, including a stipulation that NOW Telecom secure an infusion of additional capital of PHP1.9 billion (USD39.2 million) – based on ‘the first two years capital expenditure of PHP6.3 billion in the submitted rollout plan and approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the increase in the authorised and paid-up capital’. In addition, NOW is tasked with accelerating the deployment of its mobile internet service in suburban and rural areas where, ‘it shall strictly comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage in each of the phases of project implementation’. Further, the terms and conditions prohibit the carrier from sharing or co-using its frequencies with any of the country’s other mobile operators – PLDT (Smart), Globe Telecom and DITO Telecommunity – or indeed, ‘any other entity’ without first securing approval from the NTC.