Talks of 5G technology have been going on for years with predictions of its global adoption by 2020 and paving the way for the Internet of Things (IoT).
PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) has been testing the technology for quite some time and just a few weeks ago made an announcement that the city of Clark in Pampanga (north of Metro Manila) would be the first Smart 5G City. The firm admitted that the technology will be initially available only to enterprises because there are no 5G-enabled consumer devices available yet.
Today, in a bid to showcase the benefits of 5G technology which include speed, scalability, and reliability, the telecommunications company made the country’s first successful video call on a 5G connection between the newly launched Smart 5G cities in Pampanga and Makati City.
The call was made by Joachim Horn, chief technology and information adviser of PLDT and Smart at the PLDT office in Makati City to Noel Manankil, president and CEO of Clark Development Corp. who is at the Clark Freeport Zone.
Manuel V. Pangilinan, chair and CEO of PLDT-Smart witnessed the call which also coincided with the 90th anniversary of PLDT and 25th anniversary of Smart.
“Even if you’re 90 years old, you can be very innovative,” Horn said.
Horn explained that the 5G device from Huawei turns the 5G signal into Wi-Fi signal. He also cited the many firsts happening during the call and these include the first 5G base station in the Makati central business district, first live call on 5G, first video call on 5G, first 5G-to-5G call, and the 5G-to-5G call between different vendors in the Philippines.
“We know 5G would be much faster than 4G — but speed is not the only reason we’re introducing 5G,” Horn said. “The main reason is that it’s a very versatile platform for a completely new set of applications. In 5G, the focus moves from providing the pipe to providing the environment for very different applications, for a very wide range of customers, enterprises, consumers.”
At the Clark Freeport Zone, Smart is partnering with Swedish multinational networking and telecommunications company Ericsson, while in Makati, it is working with Chinese brand Huawei.
“We are looking forward to how 5G can revolutionize how we do business in the transport, healthcare, retail, banking, and financial industries among others as we lay the groundwork for a truly Smart and digital nation,” said JV Hernandez, senior vice president and head of Enterprise for PLDT and Smart.
Initial tests have shown that speeds of up to 700 Mbps have been achieved using Huawei’s 5G equipment in Makati.
With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up many possible applications for IoT and smart cities, as well as smart applications for the retail, transport, manufacturing, logistics and warehousing sectors, and intelligent solutions for customer support and smart homes, among others.
At present, PLDT and Smart have over 221,000 kilometers of fiber network nationwide.
Along with the ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced roll-out, Smart is also deploying 5G-capable equipment and upgrading the network’s Core and Transport elements. The company is also upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites nationwide.
Smart has been testing 5G since 2016 when it achieved speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with a latency of just 1 millisecond over a ‘live’ network—the first in the Philippines. In the coming months, Smart said it will be firing up additional 5G cell sites across the Makati CBD, paving the way for piloting 5G solutions in densely populated areas like CBDs.
Also, as part of its 5G preparations, Smart also launched in June its 5G Technolab, the company’s flagship facility for the research and development, standardization, and testing of 5G, which is designed to be a sustainable environment for innovative services.
“We are transforming PLDT and Smart into the country’s leading and most trusted enabler of technology, and we are keen to explore with our partners the vast potential of 5G as a platform for exciting new innovations,” said Ernesto Alberto, chief revenue officer of