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Smart launches facility for development of 5G services

Mobile service provider Smart Communications has launched a facility for research, development and testing of 5G or fifth generation wireless technologies that it says will boost their delivery of Internet services to subscribers.

Smart’s 5G Technolab will enable subscribers to experience faster mobile broadband services and to enable Internet of Things (IOT) applications, which use sensors and electronic gadgets to connect and transmit data.

“Our vision for 5G is to be able to provide services that are relevant for our customers. There is more to what 5G can do, which includes enhanced mobile broadband services, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications,” Mario Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering, said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“We are working to transform our network to be able to address the needs of the future. To do this, we are investing not only in radio access, but also in upgrading the core and transport elements of our network,” he added.

For his part, Ernesto Alberto, PLDT and Smart Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, said the company is targeting to complete the roll-out of the 5G network by 2020 as he noted that mobile devices that are compatible with the technology are yet to be made available in the market.

“Even as 5G network technology is still at its early stages, and keeping in mind that it may take some time before 5G can be available commercially, we are already investing in pilot testing our 5G system and paving the way toward having a ‘5G-ready’ network by 2020,” said Alberto.

Smart has rolled out more than 1,300 Long Term Evolution (LTE) base stations for the first three months of 2018, leading to a total of more than 10,000 stations nationwide.

These facilities utilize various radio frequency bands, particularly the 700 megahertz (MHz) band for better coverage and penetration and the 1,800 MHz and 2,100 MHz bands for additional capacity, company officials explained.

PLDT and Smart also signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Philippines last year for the commercial development of the 5G network in the Philippines.

Under this initiative, both parties will identify and develop areas that have the potential to deliver 5G services, which is expected to enhance wireless communication services.

Smart has recorded PHP14.8 billion in service revenues for the first quarter of this year, higher by 2 percent from the previous year driven by ongoing improvements on its mobile data network.

Its parent company PLDT has allocated PHP58 billion as capital expenditures for this year for the roll-out of its fixed and mobile services. PNA

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