Smart Communications opens lab for 5G R&D and testing

Smart Communications 5G
Image credit: Smart Communications

PLDT’s wireless arm Smart Communications has launched a 5G Technolab facility that will focus on the research and development, standardization, and testing of 5G technologies and services.

“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 Ernesto Alberto, PLDT and Smart executive vice president and chief revenue officer, adding that 5G-compatible devices have yet to be available in the market.

Despite commercial 5G still being some time off, Smart intends to explore ways to deploy 5G and develop services that exploit its specific characteristics (ultra-fast speeds, low-latency and massive machine type communications) in a bid to “future-proof” its network for the next evolutionary stage, said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering.

“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,” Tamayo said.

Part of these efforts toward future-proofing the network is Smart’s ramped up roll-out of LTE, LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation technology across the country.

“By firing up LTE and LTE-A in areas from as far north as Batanes to as far south as Sarangani, we are working to make sure that our network is ready to bring world-class connectivity and the digital connected society to our customers, wherever they may be,” Tamayo added.

Last year, PLDT and Smart announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Philippines “to shape the strategic and commercial development of the 5G ecosystem in the Philippines.”

In particular, the two companies intend to identify and develop the areas of technological innovation needed to deliver 5G.

Earlier, Smart also achieved 5G speeds of 2.5 Gbps  for the first time over a live network in a demo conducted at Nokia Manila Technology Center in Quezon City.

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