ITEM: The 5G war is officially on in the Philippines, with Globe Telecom formally announcing plans to launch a fixed-wireless service using 5G by the second quarter of next year.
Like a number of early movers, Globe sees 5G’s role initially as a fixed-wireless play that not only enables the operator to expand its home broadband business faster and more quickly than rolling out fiber, but also provides a golden opportunity to hop on the 5G marketing bandwagon with a real commercial service without having to wait for 5G-compatible mobile devices.
Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu calls it “air fiber”. No, really:
[Cu] said the 5G technology would enable Globe to use Air Fiber technology in relation to deployment of fixed wireless broadband that would benefit individual customers at home and business clients alike. “Air Fiber internet, which makes use of fixed location wireless radios instead of fiber, could provide speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps,” Cu added.
Cheesy buzzwords aside, Cu explained that 5G will help Globe accelerate its home broadband rollout in part by enabling the cellco to bypass the Philippines’ cumbersome process of acquiring the multiple permits from local government units necessary to deploy FTTx:
“We can bring internet to more homes by deploying 5G compared to a typical fiber optic roll-out,” Cu said.
Depending on how the technology is deployed, 5G fixed wireless could also boost home broadband quality considerably – no small thing, considering fixed broadband speeds in the Philippines are notoriously slow by 21st century standards.
Globe plans to start rolling out its ‘5G Globe At Home’ service commercially by the middle of next year. Cu noted that Globe has been laying the groundwork for 5G deployments by upgrading its network via partners like Huawei with technologies like massive MIMO and NB-IoT.
While it’s debatable whether fixed wireless 5G counts as the same 5G vision that has been generating hype at various trade shows, either way Globe’s announcement cements the beginning of the 5G Hype War in the Philippines.
Earlier this week, PLDT-owned Smart Communications fired the first shot in that hype war with the opening of its 5G Technolab, an R&D facility where Smart will research and test 5G technologies and potential services.
Smart – which hasn’t yet revealed a timetable for launching 5G in any form, fixed or otherwise – inaugurated the lab with a demo test of Huawei 5G gear, which achieved peak speeds topping 6.5 Gbps.