By Juan Pedro Tomás
Philippine mobile services provider Smart Communications has partnered with South Korean vendor Samsung for the deployment of the former’s 5G Standalone (5G SA) technology in the Philippines.
This development follows Smart’s recent activation of initial commercial 5G SA sites in Makati. Earlier, Samsung was able to test 5G SA and make a successful call using a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G via Voice over New Radio (VoNR) at the PLDT-Smart Technolab in Smart Tower in Makati City.
The Asian carrier said that VoNR further elevates the voice and video call experience of users, enabling much better call quality using the 5G SA network. Smart made its first successful VoNR call in July 2021 with another vendor at the Technolab.
“5G SA, as an innovation platform, will create new opportunities for enterprises and consumers that will maximize its ultra-reliable and low latency capabilities, enabling industrial automation, autonomous mobile robotics deployment, safe remote crane operations, fast response in gaming and interactive video streaming, among others,” said head of technology at PLDT and Smart, MarioTamayo.
“For the 5G future of Philippines to be fully realized, we need to accelerate the rate of deployment for more use cases and new applications to thrive. At Samsung, we continue to expand our 5G-enable devices so more Filipinos can experience the power of next-generation 5G connectivity and enable them to share more, play more, and do more, faster,” said James Jung, president of Samsung Philippines.
The partners highlighted that 5G SA technology paves the way for a variety of new industry applications that utilize 5G’s full features, enabling super-fast response times and faster access to higher data rates that are required by cloud gaming, or immersive media, for example.
To date, Smart has deployed around 6,400 5G base stations nationwide.
In October last year, Smart Communications activated its commercial 5G Standalone network in Makati City, the country’s main business district. Smart said it first began exploring 5G in 2016. Smart also said it had activated the country’s first 5G base stations in 2018 and made the first 5G Standalone (SA)-powered video call in Southeast Asia in August 2019.
Smart Communications is a wholly owned wireless communications and digital services subsidiary of PLD, a telecommunications and digital services provider based in the Philippines.
Rival operator Globe Telecom announced in October 2021 that it had completed a SA 5G trial on a live set-up at a facility in Makati City.
Globe Telecom first received the approval to launch commercial 5G in 2018, with a nod from the Metro Manila Development Authority to deploy hundreds of small cell sites across Manila. The company brought its Non-Standalone 5G (NSA) network online to 17 urban areas in 2020, providing coverage to more than 80 per cent of the metro Manila area by the end of that year.