PLDT, Huawei to target 5G rollout in 2020

by Jamil Santos, Corrspondent | World Executives Digest |

The PLDT Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as it plans to rollout fifth-generation (5G) wireless broadband technology in the country by 2020.

In his Jan. 13 visit to China, PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. chairman, president and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan signed the deal with Huawei Philippines CEO Jacky Gao Kexin.

PLDT said in a BusinessWorld report that, together with Smart, it will work with Huawei to shape the strategic and commercial development of the 5G ecosystem in the Philippines.

Specifically, the collaboration aims to “identify and develop the areas of technological innovation needed to deliver 5G, which is expected to provide the foundation for the digital connected society.” The companies plan to establish a 5G innovation lab and a showcase network.

Last year, Smart and Huawei achieved test data speeds of 1.4 Gigabit per second (Gbps) using Carrier Aggregation (CA), a capability of Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) or 4.5G. CA combines two or more radio frequency bands to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds to mobile users.

PLDT Chief Corporate Services Officer Ray Espinosa said the partnership will enable the company to best serve its customers and help boost the country’s development in a rapidly turning digital world.

Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart said in BusinessMirror that “[w]ith 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.”

One major leg of Smart’s multi-year, multi-million dollar nationwide network expansion program has recently been completed in Metro Davao, where users are already reporting much improved mobile data experience. The expansion aims to improve its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) service.

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

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