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Business

NOW Telecom gets US grant to set up 5G network

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Mel Velarde’s NOW Telecom Co. Inc. has received the grant from the US government for the pilot launch of a 5G network that would support connectivity services in the Philippines.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, NOW Corp. announced that its affiliate NOW Telecom executed the grant agreement with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the deployment of 5G services in the country.

NOW Telecom and USTDA signed the grant agreement to fund the technical assistance for the 5G network project during the 10th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue last week.

NOW Telecom will use the financing to develop a secure 5G standalone network infrastructure in the Philippines.

In particular, the grant will bankroll the Velarde-led telco in its effort to put up a wireless telephony network using 5G technology to boost connectivity services nationwide.

Based on the plan, 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 push through with the crafting of a countrywide broadband service.

In the last phase, NOW Telecom is tasked to test in Metro Manila the 5G network it developed to assess its quality and speed.

As a telco provider, NOW Telecom wants to own a standalone network that can extend internet connectivity, as well as raise competition in the market, in the long haul.

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

Further, the pilot in Metro Manila will deploy network and radio equipment, core network and software produced by Nokia Americas.

Last year, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines to submit new initiatives that would fortify bilateral relations between Manila and Washington. During the visit, Harris said the US would work with NOW Telecom to launch 5G technology for national use.

NOW Telecom, for its part, benefits from the technical assistance it secured from the USTDA, as it plans to spend as much as P7.8 billion in the next 10 years for its network expansion.

In 2019 NOW Telecom announced its entry in the 5G competition, guaranteeing its users of up to 20 Gbps of download speed, but faced regulatory issues when it was slapped with sanctions for misleading investors by labeling itself the fourth player in the telco industry.

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