Now Telecom, with aims to become the Philippines’ fourth major telecoms operator, turned to South Korea-based SK Telecom (SKT) for expertise in rolling out a standalone (SA) 5G network.

The companies entered into a strategic partnership covering technical planning, network design and 5G core network training. SKT also will share its technical knowledge and experience around home broadband and enterprise applications.

Shim Sang-soo, head of SKT’s infrastructure business, said it will work closely with Now Telecom “to achieve 5G network innovation”.

Now Telecom chairman Mel Velarde said SKT’s 5G leadership would enable the newcomer to “hit the mobile gigabit ground running with almost zero trial and error”.

The Philippines operator, which offers fixed and wireless broadband, and cloud services to enterprises, in 2018 submitted a bid to become the third major mobile player.

It lost out to Mislatel Consortium, which recently changed its name to Dito Telecommunity and plans to begin commercial service in late 2020.

In August, Now Telecom set the stage to launch mobile service by forging a partnership with a Singapore-based fibre network provider to build a nationwide backbone.

The operator holds a cellular mobile telephone system licence as well as a 25-year congressional franchise to provide telecoms services, however, it doesn’t have sufficient spectrum to operate nationwide service.

Technology share
A number of other operators have turned to SKT for its technology.

Earlier this month Rakuten Mobile, the fourth mobile operator in Japan, reportedly signed a deal to acquire 5G technologies from SKT, as the newcomer prepares for the launch of the next-generation mobile service in June 2020.

The operator is expected to tap SKT for its 5G network design, optimisation, antenna and radio frequency transmission technologies.

Viettel Group, parent of the largest mobile operator in Vietnam, signed an MoU with an SKT subsidiary to jointly research and develop new B2B services and business models.