Following the announcement of 5G deployment in the Philippines earlier this year, PLDT’s wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart), together with Swedish networking company Ericsson, officially announced the choice of Clark as the pilot location for the technology and will be known as the first “Smart 5G city.”
The city of Clark, especially at the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ), is experiencing significant economic development with the hopes of attracting more foreign and domestic investments.
Vivencio Dizon, president and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority said the design of the city will be a complete departure from the other urban developments that occurred in Metro Manila. It will avoid population and transportation decongestion by providing a plan that incorporates — and utilize — the latest technology.
While most IoT conversations are smart-home-centric, the initial use of 5G technology will be among enterprises before it eventually trickles down to the consumer sector, according to Joachim Horn, chief technology and information adviser of PLDT. This is due in part of the availability of consumer devices that are 5G-enabled.
IoT needs a technology that could handle an explosion of data traffic. Ericsson sees that for the consumer business, mobile broadband will be the primary use case for this sector.
“During the first years, 5G use cases will be toward enterprises,” he said. “In the midterm and long-term, consumers will come.”
Right now, industries and enterprises have the capabilities and infrastructure to benefit from the technology. Emerging industrial use cases such as virtual and augmented reality will require higher bandwith, greater capacity, lower latency, and security.
In IDC (International Data Corp.) Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide released this year, it said that spending on smart cities in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) will reach $30 billion in 2018 and by 2022, the cost will reach $54.4 billion.
While the core of the hype on 5G is all about speed, Jojo Gendrano, VP and head of Enterprise Core Business Solutions at PLDT said that scale and reliability are notable benefits that the technology will bring.
At the Mobile World Congress held in February, Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, explained that “5G has been designed to be the industrial internet, with remote control of machinery and maintenance with augmented reality as two prime examples.”
This explains why Clark became the ultimate choice to deploy 5G. First, because the infrastructure is still new and it would be easier to incorporate the technology, and second because the city is primarily designed to become an industrial hub.
“With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up exciting possibilities for Internet of Things applications for Filipinos,” Smart’s media release said, “as well as smart applications for the transport sector, traffic management, manufacturing, airport and mall operations, logistics and warehousing, retail, customer support, and smart homes, among others.”
Ericsson’s Nunzio Mirtillo said that according to the firm’s Mobility Report, 5G subscriptions for eMBB have reached over 1 billion while mobile traffic via 5G networks is now at 20 percent.
“More than 20 percent of the world’s population are now covered by 5G,” Mirtillo said.
Smart reports that since starting testing 5G in 2016, it has so far achieved “speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with a latency of just 1 millisecond over a ‘live’ network’.”
Horn said that while Smart still has an ongoing rollout of LTE and LTE-Advanced technology nationwide, it wouldn’t be a problem when the country as they ensured that “the operating networks are 5G-upgradeable.” He also noted that “5G will not come overnight” and LTE will still be in use for quite some time.
Earlier in August, Smart and Ericsson signed a memorandum of understanding to deploy the “country’s first 5G pilot network” by the first half of 2019 in Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island.
The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) compliant 5G Trial System that will be deployed in Smart includes Ericsson 5G RAN, Core and Transport solutions.
“The 5G pilot deployment will allow Smart to explore industry partnership engagements, collaborate with schools and universities, and further develop competence in 5G,” according to the release.
Image from New Clark City website