Philippines operators vie for 5G headlines

Philippines operators vie for 5G headlines

Hard on the heels of the news of a big Nokia agreement for 5G rollout with rival operator Globe, Philippines operator PLDT is now claiming that it has the widest 5G network reach in the country.

The company’s wireless arm, Smart Communications Inc, claims to have operational more than 1,400 5G sites, which, the company says, is “by far the most extensive in the country”.

5G service is now available in Benguet, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga Sibugay. However, this is in addition to 5G sites deployed in all of Metro Manila’s cities and municipalities, as well as in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan and Davao.

Mario Tamayo, head of technology for PLDT and Smart, quoted in local newspaper the Philippine Star, said network investments over the past years have allowed PLDT and Smart to level up customer experience using the latest technologies available. This apparently includes not only ramping up its 5G rollout but also continuing to expand LTE services, both of which, PDLT/Smart points out, are powered by its fibre network.

Smart is also, the newspaper reports, partnering with device manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, OPPO, vivo and realme to make 5G devices more accessible to its customers.

However, as we noted earlier, Smart isn’t hogging all the 5G headlines in the Philippines of late. Nokia announced last week that it had been selected by rival operator Globe Telecom in a three-year deal to upgrade its existing 4G network, as well as to expand the geographical reach of its 5G network at over 1,000 sites in the Philippines.

The deployment will cover the second and third largest islands of Mindanao and Visayas and will begin in Q2 2021, with completion expected in 2023.