PLDT, Inc. and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. are unlikely to launch fifth generation (5G) network services by yearend, as the telco giant is still searching for a technology partner.

“I don’t think it will happen this year. But certainly…sometime next year, early next year,” PLDT Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a media briefing Thursday.

He said there is a need to “determine the standards by which 5G will operate,” as well as finalize deals with vendors of 5G equipment.

“Over the next few months, we will determine which vendor we’ll choose for 5G,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

PLDT announced last month it was planning to launch 5G services for the Home and Enterprise by the fourth quarter of the year. Rival Globe Telecom, Inc. launched its 5G service for home on June 20.

At that time, Mr. Pangilinan said the company was in talks with five technology providers: China’s Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. and ZTE Corp.; Sweden’s Ericsson, Inc.; Finland’s Nokia Corp.; and United States’ Cisco Systems, Inc.

PLDT has been conducting pilot tests for several use cases of the next-generation network the past months.

On Thursday, PLDT launched a “Smart 5G Alliance” to gather technology firms and the academe in determining possible use cases of 5G for customers.

The alliance includes Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Microsoft, Nokia, Palo Alto, SMS Global Technologies, Araneta Center, Ateneo de Manila University and Clark Development Corp.

“What we’ve noticed when we go around the world, majority of the time, we see a lot of show cases rather than use cases… The 5G Alliance is different because our approach is we’re working with partners to really develop 5G solutions that can be used in the local setting,” PLDT-Smart Senior Vice-President and Head of Enterprise Jovy I. Hernandez said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez