Starting today, the 5G mobile phone network of Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) is going live as a commercial service.
In this initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity, and other Smart postpaid subscribers will be able to enjoy the super-fast data service of Smart 5G in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.
These areas include the Makati Central Business District (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall, and Mall of Asia Bay Area. Smart 5G is also being rolled out in key high-traffic areas such as North Avenue in Quezon City and Taft Avenue in Manila, as well as in Ortigas CBD, and Clark Green City in Pampanga.
Through partnerships with device manufacturers, Smart will also launch its initial lineup of Smart 5G-certified devices from Huawei, Samsung, RealMe, and Vivo, which will be available with Smart Signature plans in select Smart Stores.
“The launch of Smart’s 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilizing 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,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and CEO. “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 serve 95% of the country’s population.”
5G with Smart Signature
The first five Smart 5G-certified devices are now available with the Smart Signature Device Plans S, M, L, and XL.
“On top of giving customers priority when it comes to the latest in technology and devices, Smart Signature also enables subscribers to do more by providing more data allocation of up to 30 GB per month. The plans also come with Unlimited OnNet Calls, Unlimited AnyNet Texts, and allocations for AnyNet Calls plus exclusive perks and rewards,” said Jane J. Basas, Smart SVP and head of Consumer Wireless Business.
Subscribers can also experience Smart 5G first-hand with the 5G-ready handsets featured at select Smart Stores in Metro Manila, including Smart Tower in Makati City, Gateway Mall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, and The World Plaza in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
The strategy to deploy 5G has been embedded in Smart’s network planning over the past five years. PLDT’s wireless subsidiary started conducting tests with 5G in 2016. In 2018, it fired up the country’s first 5G base stations in Makati with Huawei and the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga with Ericsson. Last year, Smart also launched the first Smart 5G Lifestyle hub and 5G-enabled shopping mall In Araneta City, as well as the first Smart 5G campus at the Ateneo de Manila University.
To actually execute the 5G deployment plan required a steady investment effort by PLDT and Smart that has amounted to nearly P260 billion in overall capital expenditure (capex) spend over the past five years. In 2019 alone, the PLDT Group’s capex reached a record P72.9 billion. The 2020 capex is expected to reach P70 billion despite the slowdown in network rollout due to the quarantine controls imposed in the second quarter of this year.
This capex program enabled PLDT and Smart to build the digital infrastructure needed to support the deployment first of 4G/LTE and later 5G. This involved, first of all, the deployment of an extensive optic fiber network. The PLDT Group’s fiber network is the most pervasive in the country and extends to over nearly 360,000 kilometers as of June 2020.
PLDT has partnered with Cisco and Huawei, to transform its IP fiber transport infrastructure into a fully automated, software-defined 5G-ready network. This highly reliable, highly scalable infrastructure utilizing PLDT’s existing fiber network will enable PLDT to deliver next-generation digital services like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things via 5G.