PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Nokia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to pilot the deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless broadband technologies and services in schools.


Under the MoU, PLDT, Smart and Nokia will collaborate in identifying innovative real world and enterprise-led 5G standalone (5G SA) solutions, such as artificial intelligence, drones, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, for use in schools, colleges and universities. This will be done through the combined capabilities of the PLDT-Smart 5G Technolab in Makati and the Nokia Technology Center in Quezon City.


5G SA relies solely on 5G for data transmission, and allows the full benefit of 5G capabilities to be tested and demonstrated.  In contrast, 5G NSA (non-standalone) combines the use of 5G and existing 4G/LTE resources to transmit data. 


“We are happy to partner with Nokia to help develop intelligent solutions and technologies for the benefit of the Philippine education sector,” said PLDT-Smart chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan. 


“As the country’s leading and most trusted technology enabler, PLDT and Smart are excited to work with Nokia and the academe in realizing our 5G vision,” said Ernesto R. Alberto, PLDT-Smart chief revenue officer. 

The MoU also covers deploying 5G SA technologies and innovative products and services, such as 5G handsets and applications, for example.


“By working with partners like Nokia in unlocking the full potential of 5G for Filipino enterprises and customers, we are putting the Philippines at par with the rest of the world in preparing for the deployment and adoption of 5G,” said PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn.


“This gives us great pleasure to continue our partnership with PLDT and Smart, to be one of the pioneers of 5G SA deployment. This goes beyond just speed. 5G SA enables introduction of services like real-time remote control of robotics and autonomous driving of transport vehicles in the areas of Industrial Revolution 4.0 with new technologies like Network Slicing and Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications.” said Jae Won, head of Asia Pacific and Japan at Nokia.


Smart and Nokia first explored 5G in 2016, when they achieved speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with latency of just 1 millisecond over a ‘live’ network — the first in the Philippines. 

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Best positioned to deploy 5G in the Philippines

This development is the latest in PLDT and Smart’s series of 5G initiatives. Armed with both fixed and wireless infrastructure powered by the country’s most extensive fiber network now at over 244,000 kilometers, PLDT and Smart are best positioned to deploy 5G in the country.

In its ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced roll-out, Smart is also installing 5G-capable equipment. To deliver 5G services, Smart is also currently upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements. This includes upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites nationwide. 

As part of its 5G preparations, Smart launched in June 2018 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. 

It has also joined forces with multiple technology and industry partners in launching the country’s first Smart 5G Cities in Pampanga and Makati, after firing up the Philippines’ first 5G cell sites in the Clark Freeport Zone and at the PLDT Headquarters in November last year. In the same month, they also successfully made the country’s first 5G-to-5G video call between the two 5G Smart cities. 


Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2019, PLDT capex is expected to reach P70 billion, which includes allocations for the aggressive roll-out of its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations. 

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