Smart launches commercial 5G in Philippines

Smart launches commercial 5G in Philippines

Filipino operator Smart Communications has launched commercial 5G services in the business districts of the Manila metropolitan area.

Smart president & CEO Alfredo Panlilio said: ‘The launch of Smart’s 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilising the next generation of mobile technology. For our customers, it opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying video, playing esports and using more powerful digital services.”

He added: “As we roll out 5G in more areas of the country, this will complement the deployment of our 4G LTE network, which is already the fastest and most extensive in the country. To date, Smart 4G LTE and 3G coverage serves 95% of the country’s population.”

Smart’s 5G launch comes hot on the heels of a public threat by president Rodrigo Duterte to requisition public utilities from Smart and rival operator Globe due to their “lousy” services. Duterte claimed he would shutter the providers if they had not improved their QoS by December.

Although Smart did not issue an official response to Duterte’s threat, spokesman Ramon Isberto has confirmed that the 5G launch was “part of our step-by-step rollout plan for 5G” and not a riposte to the president.

This was supported by parent firm PLDT announcing that it will boost its 2020 capex budget to PHP70 billion (US$1.43 billion) after setting the figure at PHP60 billion in May. This will largely go towards facilitating its 5G launch.

CommsUpdate reported that the services, offered under the Smart 5G label, are launching in Makati Central Business District (CBD); the Bonifacio Global City CBD in Taguig City; Araneta City in Cubao, Quezon City; SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City; and the Mall of Asia Bay Area in Pasay City.

The service is also going live at North Avenue (Quezon City), Taft Avenue (Manila), Ortigas CBD and Clark Green City (Pampanga province). Smart 5G is being made available via postpaid tariffs.