Philippines mobile operator Smart Communications announced it signed an agreement with Ericsson to deploy the country’s first 5G pilot network during the first half of 2019.
The 5G trial system, using Ericson’s 5G RAN; core; and transport systems, will be first deployed in Luzon, the country’s most populous island where about a third of the population work and live, Smart Communications said.
Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of Smart Communications’ parent PLDT (pictured, second left) said: “As 5G opens up more opportunities for new services and solutions to offer to our customers, we are investing in future-proofing our network and making sure that our network is ready for 5G.”
Martin Wiktorin, head of Ericsson Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Pacific Islands (pictured, far right), said it believes first movers in 5G can reshape the market; grow share; and increase revenue streams. He added the combination of improved capacity and ultra-low latency in 5G will help realise new use cases and business models, and capture new revenue opportunities by addressing industry digitalisation.
To deliver 5G services Smart Communications is upgrading its network’s core and transport elements, which includes converting the backhaul connecting cell sites around the country to fibre and deploying 5G-ready equipment in its ongoing LTE rollout, said Mario Tamayo, SVP for network planning and engineering.
Under its current programme, Smart Communications will install 5G-compatible radio equipment across its network, which now has more than 2,000 5G-ready sites.
The operator began testing 5G in December 2016, when it worked with Nokia to achieve speeds of 2.5Gb/s using 100MHz of spectrum.
In June, days after launching its 5G TechnoLab facility (which covers R&D, standardisation and testing of 5G technologies and services) Smart Communications announced it achieved rates data of more than 6.5Gb/s in a trial with Huawei.