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PLDT, Smart launch first 5G city in Clark, Pampanga

MANILA, Philippines – Just days before the bidding for the 3rd major telecommunications player, Smart Communications and PLDT further strengthened its hold in the telco space and launched the country’s first 5G City.

The telecommunications giant signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Clark Development Corporation (CDC) to launch Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) as the country’s first Smart 5G City.

Under the agreement, PLDT and Smart, together with technology partner Ericsson, will fire up the first 5G cell site in the city in November.

The Manny Pangilinan-led companies will also ramp-up Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G signals in key areas in CFZ and equip all of them with 5G facilities in the coming months.

“This will benefit not only Clark but the country as well by demonstrating that we are in step with the rest of the world in adopting advanced intelligent technologies,” Pangilinan said. (LOOK: Smart 5G banners, 5G-branded vehicles in Clark)

5G power

The next generation of mobile communications promise the fastest data transfer and reduced latency at a cheaper cost and consumes less energy.

5G is expected to hit the global market in 2020. (READ: China ahead of U.S. in 5G race – report)

Based on tests by global telecommunication brands like Qualcomm, browsing speeds could go as high as 1.4 gigabytes per second, over 20 times faster than 4G.

Meanwhile, download speeds can go as high as 186 megabytes per second on 5G.

The super-high speeds open possibilities for Internet of Things  (IoT) applications, 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.

“Through this pilot deployment, we will be able to test 5G’s capabilities using a live network and develop solutions that will serve the future needs of industries and government, such as autonomous vehicles, connected fleets, and smart buildings and factories,” said PLDT and Smart Chief Revenue Officer Ernesto Alberto.

Smart says they are now installing 5G-compatible radio equipment across its network, which now has over 2,000 5G-ready sites. The company’s fiber network is over 221,000 kilometers.

“By piloting 5G in Clark, we are making this zone even more attractive to foreign investors. Through this pilot, we are putting the possibilities of 5G closer to industries, businesses and enterprises operating in the city,” said Juan Victor Hernandez, Senior Vice President and Head of Enterprise for PLDT and Smart.

According to a report from OpenSignal, Smart's overall download speed improved by 29% to 7.5 Mbps in 2018.

Meanwhile, Globe's average overall download speed saw an approximate 14% increase to 5 Mbps.

However, the Philippines still lags globally, ranking 96th in the mobile speed rankings of the Ookla Speedtest Global Index. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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