Smart 5G, Five Years and 260 Billion Pesos in the Making

Did you know that it took five years for Smart Communications to plan the deployment of its 5G network, which was officially launched for public consumption on July 30, 2020? It's true.

In fact, Smart's strategy to deploy 5G has been embedded in the MVP company's network planning in the past half-decade.

PLDT’s wireless services subsidiary, Smart Communications, started conducting 5G-related tests as far back as 2016. In 2018, Smart fired up the Philippines' first-ever 5G base stations in Makati in partnership with Huawei and the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga with Ericsson. The year after, in 2019, the country's leading mobile network launched the first Smart 5G Lifestyle Hub in Araneta City and the Philipines' first Smart 5G Campus at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Smart 5G Ateneo Campus

The photo above was taken after the landmark signing of the memorandum of agreement between PLDT-Smart executives and the central administration of Ateneo de Manila University which was held on June 19, 2019 at Ateneo’s Convergent Technologies Center.

At the partnership ceremony, PLDT-Smart Chairman and CEO Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan said, "Technology should be used to improve the welfare and the lives of the people. It is our most profound hope that the provision of 5G will further enable the students of the Ateneo to create, develop, and explore new ways to continuously uplift our nation."

Smart's 5G deployment plan required a steady investment effort that totaled nearly PHP 260 Billion in overall capital expenditure (capex) spend from 2016 to 2020. In 2019, PLDT Group’s capex reached a record PHP 72.9 Billion while PLDT-Smart's capex in 2020 is expected to reach PHP 70 Billion even with the slowdown in network rollout as a result of quarantine controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

Through this capital expenditure program, PLDT-Smart was able to build the digital infrastructure needed to support the effective deployment of both 4G-LTE and 5G. The infrastructure includes an extensive optic fiber network that is now the most pervasive in the country as it extends to over 360,000 kilometers as of June 2020.

Additionally, PLDT has partnered with tech giants like Cisco and Huawei to transform its IP fiber transport infrastructure into a software-defined and fully automated 5G-Ready network. This reliable and scalable infrastructure makes use of PLDT’s existing fiber network and allows the company to deliver innovative digital services like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) through ultra-fast 5G mobile data speeds.

Utilizing this extensive and powerful fiber network, Smart Communications has likewise been able to fast-track the rollout of its 4G-LTE service across the Philippines. Currently, Smart is capable of providing high-speed mobile internet service to over 93% of our country's cities and municipalities and 95% of Filipinos. As the company continues to make 4G-LTE and LTE-Advanced available nationwide, Smart has also been installing 5G-capable equipment which will make the deployment of 5G in more parts of the Philippines easier and faster.

"It has taken a lot of time and effort. But the future is now here," noted Ms. Jane J. Basas - Smart Senior Vice president and Head of Consumer Wireless Business.

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