Philippine’s PLDT unit Smart Communications launches commercial 5G mobile network services

30, Jul. 2020

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MANILA, NNA – Smart Communications Inc., the wireless subsidiary of Philippine telecommunications giant PLDT Inc., launched its fifth generation (5G) mobile service on Thursday in select areas, using equipment supplied by China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and Sweden’s Ericsson.

Smart and its parent company, PLDT, spent 260 billion pesos ($5.3 billion) in overall capital expenditure over the past five years on its 5G deployment plan. In 2020, their 5G investment is expected to reach 70 billion pesos.

Smart said it will initially offer its 5G services to postpaid customers in key business districts in Metro Manila and the nearby province of Pampanga. These areas include Makati Central Business District (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area.

Smart will also introduce 5G compatible mobile devices for postpaid plan subscribers. It has partnered with China’s Huawei, BBK Electronics’ VIVO and RealMe brands, and Samsung.

Smart expects its number of 5G customers to increase steadily as the devices become more accessible and affordable, Ramon Isberto, head of Smart’s public affairs department, told NNA.

Smart aims to expand its 5G services in more areas of metro Manila in a “targeted way” by the end of the year, and bring it to other key urban centers, Isberto said..

“As we gradually worked out how to operate under pandemic conditions, we have been steadily ramping up our network roll out, including that of 5G,” he said.

PLDT, a fixed broadband service provider, will also soon roll out its own 5G service, after the US’ Cisco Systems and Huawei help it transform its IP fiber transport infrastructure.

Smart’s rival Globe Telecom Inc. began to offer 5G fixed broadband service for homes in select areas last year, making the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia to roll out 5G services. Globe also uses Huawei’s equipment.

Last year during his state visit to Manila, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned countries against the use of Huawei’s equipment for their 5G technology. He cited security risks that the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker’s products could be used for China’s espionage, an allegation that Huawei has denied.