By Minerva BC Newman
CEBU CITY – PLDT – Smart Communication, Inc. Ericsson recently teamed up to launch 5G internet speed to the market via a Technofest attended by its partner schools to showcase the possibilities of 5G.
“Everybody knows 5G is coming. Some say next year, some say later. With this demonstration, we want to give you a flavor of what 5G could be,” PLDT chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn told faculty members of partner schools of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP), a long-running collaboration between Smart and the academe.
SWEEP aims to raise the standards of engineering and IT education in the country.
Technofest featured Ericsson’s Robotic Arm, Balancing Robot, Smart City Model, Connected Mangroves and Connected Fleet technologies.
Horn explained that 5G is going to be very different from 4G, which is mainly the mobile broadband fast internet platform.
“We are introducing 5G because it’s a very versatile platform for completely new set of applications,” said Horn.
“We have also come a long way in terms of readiness in 5G. Whatever LTE equipment we are deploying today with Smart, those are already 5G-ready. It’s just a matter of upgrading the software,” Ericsson vice president Anthony Valdez added.
The Technofest is part of Smart and Ericsson’s joint 5G efforts, which was first launched in August, with them signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deploy the country’s first 5G pilot network by the first half of 2019.
To date, Smart is installing 5G-compatible radio equipment across its network, which has now over 2,000 5G-ready sites.
PLDT/Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering Mario Tamayo said that to be able to deliver 5G services to its customers in the future, Smart is upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements.
This includes upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites around the country and deploying 5G-ready equipment in the ongoing LTE roll-out, Tamayo added.
“As we continue to ramp up the roll-out of LTE, LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation technology nationwide, we are also making sure that these are already future-proof towards 5G,” Tamayo said.
With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens exciting possibilities for Internet of Things (IoT) applications for Filipinos, particularly in healthcare and smart cities, Tamayo pointed out.
PLDT has committed significant resources for network transformation.
This year, PLDT’s capex is expected to reach P58 billion, Tamayo bared.