PLDT-Smart, Huawei to deploy 5G technology in PHL by 2020

MANILA — PLDT and Smart Communications has partnered with Huawei Technologies Philippines for research and development of 5G or fifth generation wireless broadband technology to further improve the state of mobile communications in the country.

PLDT and Smart Chairman, President, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Huawei led by Jacky Gao Kexin, CEO of Huawei Philippines in a recent visit to the Huawei headquarters in Shenzen, China.

Under the MOU, PLDT and Smart will work with Huawei to shape the strategic and commercial development of the 5G infrastructure in the Philippines.

Both parties would identify and develop the areas of technological innovation needed to deliver 5G to strengthen digital connectivity in the country.

Plans include setting up a 5G innovation lab and the creation of a showcase network.

Smart is eyeing to fully set up the 5G technology by 2020 through extensive efforts in expanding its network infrastructure nationwide to improve both coverage and quality of service, particularly its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) service.

A major leg of this network expansion was recently completed in Metro Davao, where Smart users are already reporting much improved mobile data experience.

The rollout is currently underway in Metro Manila and in Metro Cebu, and is expected to significantly boost Smart’s voice, SMS, and mobile data services, specially its indoor LTE coverage, in these urban centers.

An upgrade of PLDT’s fixed access networks, part of the company’s transformation toward 5G-readiness, is also underway.

Initial tests done by Smart have found that the ongoing network rollout in and around Metro Manila has begun to pay off, with tests in Rizal province showing LTE download speeds of up to 18 megabits per second (Mbps), while tests in selected indoor and outdoor areas in Cebu have also generated download speeds in excess of 20 Mbps.

According to recently released findings of J.P. Morgan Securities’ Asia Network Quality Report for the last quarter of 2016, Smart posted the highest overall LTE download speeds at 9.17 Mbps among local mobile providers. The report, which cited crowd-sourced data gathered by wireless coverage research firm Open Signal, also found Smart leading in NCR for 3G, with download speeds of 2.85 Mbps.

“Smart is focused on LTE, as it provides us the best platform to bring high-speed mobile internet throughout the country. LTE facilities, with strengthened transport links, can be quickly upgraded to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), and will be an integral part of our future 5G network,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart.

“This collaboration with Huawei is an important part of PLDT and Smart’s efforts to bring the most advanced technologies to the Philippines. It will enable us to best serve our customers and help boost the country’s development in a world that is rapidly turning digital,” said Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Chief Corporate Services Officer at PLDT and Smart.

According to Shawn Longyuxiang, director of Huawei Philippines’ PLDT group account, “We are glad to partner with PLDT and Smart to help develop innovations needed to deliver 5G.”

Late last year, Smart and Huawei successfully combined five frequencies through Carrier Aggregation (CA), a capability of LTE-A, to achieve data speeds of 1.4 Gbps (gibabit per second). Smart also used CA in April last year to roll out the country’s first LTE-A service. Initially deployed in Boracay and soon in major urban areas such as Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila, Smart’s LTE-A service delivers peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

“With these breakthroughs, we successfully demonstrated that very high speeds demanded by the advent of the ‘Gigabit Society’ can be supported using LTE technology, and with the spectrum available to PLDT and Smart,” said Horn.