PLDT, Smart and Huawei in R&D pact to bring 5G to the Philippines

pldt smart huawei 5G
Front row: PLDT and Smart Chairman, President, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan and Huawei Technologies Philippines CEO Jacky Gao Kexin. Back row [L-R]: Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Chief Corporate Services Officer at PLDT and Smart; Ricky Vargas, head of the Business Transformation Office of PLDT and Smart; Eric Xu, rotating CEO of Huawei Corporation, and David Wei, President of Huawei South Pacific region

PLDT, its wireless unit Smart Communications and Huawei Technologies Philippines revealed that they have signed a MoU to jointly conduct research and development on 5G and build a 5G demo network.

Under the MoU, which was signed in Shenzhen on January 13, PLDT and Smart will work with Huawei to shape the strategic and commercial development of the 5G ecosystem in the Philippines by identifying and developing areas of technological innovation needed to deliver 5G.

Plans include setting up a 5G innovation lab, and the creation of a showcase 5G network.

Smart is in the middle of a multi-year, multi-million dollar nationwide network expansion program to improve both coverage and quality of service, particularly its LTE service. An upgrade of PLDT’s fixed access networks, is also underway. Both are part of the company’s transformation toward 5G-readiness, said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart.

“LTE facilities, with strengthened transport links, can be quickly upgraded to LTE-Advanced, and will be an integral part of our future 5G network,” Horn said.

Smart rolled out the country’s first LTE-A service in April 2016, initially in Boracay, promising peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices. Late last year, Smart and Huawei successfully combined five frequencies through carrier aggregation on the LTE-A network  to achieve data speeds of 1.4 Gbps.

“We are focused on ensuring that our current investments in network facilities will enable us to be ready with the necessary infrastructure foundation for 5G when it arrives sometime in 2020,” added Horn.

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