PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has made the country’s first successful video call on a 5G connection between the newly launched Smart 5G cities in Pampanga and Makati City.
The 5G-powered video call was made by PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn from the PLDT headquarters in the Makati City central business district, to Clark Development Corp. President and CEO Noel Manankil at the Clark Smart 5G City in the Clark Freeport Zone.
The country’s first 5G-enabled video call was made using 5G Radio and Core equipment of Smart’s technology partners Huawei in Makati and Ericsson in Clark, showcasing 5G interoperability in a multi-vendor environment at this early stage.
“5G is real and it is now here in Makati and Clark,” PLDT-Smart chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said during ceremonies held at the PLDT headquarters as part of PLDT’s 90th anniversary celebrations.
“We are working very hard with our technology partners Huawei and Ericsson, as well as government and industrial partners like Bases Conversion and Development Authority and CDC in piloting 5G use cases and establishing even more Smart 5G Cities across the country soon,” Pangilinan added.
“We are transforming PLDT and Smart into the country’s leading and most trusted enabler of technology, and we are keen to explore with our partners the vast potential of 5G as a platform for exciting new innovations,” said Ernesto R. Alberto, PLDT-Smart chief revenue officer.
In the coming months, Smart is firing up additional 5G cell sites across the Makati Central Business District, paving the way for piloting 5G solutions in densely populated areas like CBDs.
“By bringing 5G to Makati, we are putting the possibilities of 5G closer to the Philippines’ premier commercial hub, which is home to the country’s most ultra-connected enterprises and workforce,” said Juan Victor Hernandez, Senior Vice President and Head of Enterprise for PLDT and Smart. Initial tests have shown that speeds of up to 700 Mbps have been achieved using Huawei’s 5G equipment in Makati.
“We know 5G would be much faster than 4G—but speed is not the only reason we’re introducing 5G. The main reason is that it’s a very versatile platform for a completely new set of applications. In 5G, the focus moves from providing the pipe to providing the environment for very different applications, for a very wide range of customers, enterprises, consumers,” Horn said. According to Arthur Wang, director of Huawei Philippines’ PLDT group account: “We are happy to partner with PLDT and Smart in helping bring 5G to PLDT-Smart. Through this partnership, we hope to continue developing more innovations to deliver digital services to PLDT and Smart customers.”
With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up many possible applications for the Internet of Things and smart cities, as well as smart applications for the retail, transport, manufacturing, logistics and warehousing sectors, as well as intelligent solutions for customer support and smart homes, among others.
Armed with both fixed and wireless infrastructure powered by the country’s most extensive fiber network now at over 221,000 kilometers, PLDT and Smart are best positioned to deploy 5G in the country.
In its ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced roll-out, Smart is also deploying 5G-capable equipment. “To deliver 5G services, Smart is also currently upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements. This includes upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites nationwide,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.
Smart has been testing 5G since 2016, when it achieved speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with latency of just 1 millisecond over a ‘live’ network—the first in the Philippines. As part of its 5G preparations, Smart also launched in June its 5G Technolab, the company’s flagship facility for the research and development, standardization, and testing of 5G, which is designed to be a sustainable environment for innovative services.
Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex is expected to reach P58 billion, which includes allocations for the aggressive roll-out of its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.