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Telcos see 5G contributing bigger share in future

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mobile operators expect 5G, the next generation of wireless technology, to start contributing a bigger share to their business next year.

PLDT’s wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. and Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. are beefing up their 5G network rollout in preparation for a heated battle in the space in the coming years.

“We are still in the early stages of our network rollout for 5G, so the expectations in terms of contribution to our revenues will start significantly between 2022 and 2023,” Smart senior vice president and head of consumer wireless business Jane Basas said.

“For now, we are really pushing the rollout and in areas where we have the 5G signal so that we become the leaders in those areas,” Basas said.

Smart has more than 2,600 5G sites fired up in strategic locations nationwide and it aims to end the year with over 4,000 5G sites.

As part of its strategy to address increasing demand for data and data-centric applications, PLDT and Smart are gearing up for the shutdown of its 2G and 3G technologies to migrate to faster speed LTE and 5G technologies.

For its part, Globe said 5G is still in its very early days.

Globe chief commercial officer Issa Guevarra-Cabreira said handset penetration is still very low given that prices of 5G devices are still very high.

“We do see a few of our higher end customers actually having access to these high-end devices, but traffic-wise we don’t expect it to come yet to a big amount of traffic or even give a significant contribution at least in a year,” Guevarra-Cabreira said.

Globe said its 5G network covers 84 percent of Metro Manila, expanding to total 1,383 sites including Bacolod, Boracay, Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Davao as of end-March.

Globe became the first mobile operator in Southeast Asia to commercially launch 5G AirFiber for Home use in 2019.

The telco launched its 5G for mobile a year later.

Smart, for its part, launched its 5G service commercially in July last year and was the first to roll-out 5G nationwide.

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