MANILA — Globe Telecom Inc on Thursday launched Southeast Asia’s first 5G broadband service, with embattled Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. providing the equipment, a win for the Chinese firm despite cybersecurity worries from Western nations.
The Philippines is also the third in Asia to have 5G broadband service, after South Korea and Japan.
The Ayala-led telecoms firm aims to offer high-speed internet to tens of thousands of homes and offices in key urban centers as part of its $1.2 billion capital spending this year, Alberto de Larrazabal, Globe’s chief commercial officer, told reporters.
Globe would use Huawei’s equipment like radios and modems to deliver 5G quality broadband internet, he added. Huawei and Finland’s Nokia were Globe’s equipment providers for its 4G service.
The United States had warned that next-generation 5G equipment, which some telecoms experts see as more vulnerable to attack than previous technology, could be exploited by the Chinese government for spying if supplied by Huawei, which the company denies.
Washington, a treaty ally of Manila, had persuaded governments and telecoms operators to shun Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment.
Globe hired independent firms “to ensure that our security protocols are up to date, to make sure privacy and security issues are addressed,” Mr. de Larrazabal said.
Philippine consumers, the world’s top social media users, often get frustrated with slow and choppy internet connections. The Philippines’ mobile internet and fixed broadband speeds lag behind its neighbors, data from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index showed.
It ranks 107th among 178 countries in terms of fixed broadband speed at 19.55 megabits per second (Mbps) versus the global average of 59.6 Mbps. Among 140 countries, it ranks 107th in terms of mobile internet speed at 15.10 Mbps, nearly half of the 27.22 Mbps global average.
Globe is owned by Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp, with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd holding a minority stake.
Globe At Home Air Fiber 5G is a fixed wireless broadband that uses technology where a site transmits connectivity to the home without the use of wired connection.
Plans range from 20Mbps to 100Mbps as opposed to existing 4G broadband plans that offers 5Mbps to 20Mbps. Air Fiber 5G will be available next month for home use broadband.
As for availability of 5G service to mobile handsets, Globe is still waiting for 5G capable handsets to become more pervasive.
“When the handsets with 5G become…more affordable…more pervasive then we can think about whether rolling it out for mobile makes sense. But for now it’s very targeted, it’s going to be somewhat stationary for at home use,” Mr. de Larrazabal said. — Reuters with report from Katrina T. Mina