NOW Telecom secures US grant for 5G services

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Mel Velarde’s NOW Telecom Company Inc. has pulled a huge win in its bid to offer 5G services, bagging a grant from the US government for the development of a wireless telephony network.

In a regulatory filing, NOW Corp. said that its affiliate NOW Telecom has received a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the provision of technical assistance.

With the grant, NOW Telecom is tasked by the USTDA to develop a wireless telephony network using 5G technology to improve connectivity services in the Philippines.

According to the USTDA, the technical assistance is divided into three components, the first of which is the design of a national 5G wireless network. Afterward, NOW Telecom will spearhead the planning of a nationwide broadband service.

In the third phase, the firm will pilot the 5G network it developed in Metro Manila to test its quality and speed. The USTDA also expects the technical assistance to support NOW Telecom provide mobile and wireless services to its subscribers using 5G technology.

NOW Telecom eyes to put up a standalone network that would enhance broadband connectivity, as well as increase competition in the market, in the long run.

Under the grant, NOW Telecom will be backed by Bell Labs Consulting, represented by Nokia of America Corp. as the prime contractor, in setting up the 5G network.

On the other hand, the pilot in Metro Manila will make use of network and radio equipment, core network and software supplied by Nokia Americas.

As mandated by the USTDA, NOW Telecom has to come up with a 5G plan that should lay out the deployment strategy, project timeline and technical components of the network it is tasked to build. The 5G plan should respond to the growing demand for connectivity in the country.

In November US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines to propose new initiatives that would strengthen bilateral ties between Manila and Washington. During the visit, Harris said the US would partner with NOW Telecom for the deployment of 5G technology.

“These efforts should provide faster and more reliable digital services and increased broadband Internet access for Filipinos countrywide,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

In 2019, NOW Telecom announced its entry in the 5G market, promising users of up to 20 Gbps of Internet speed, but faced regulatory challenges lately when it was slapped with sanctions for misleading the investing public by labeling itself the fourth player in the telco industry.

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