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Smart sets expansion of 5G network coverage

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PLDT, Inc.’s wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. said it plans to expand the coverage of its fifth generation (5G) network by next year, which it hopes will spur the creation of more “5G cities.”

“We plan to start work on new smart cities in the first half of next year. They will be in different areas, with different interests, and with different vendors. This is because we want to explore with various types of customers how 5G can be set up for their particular use cases,” PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company said the versatility of use cases for 5G such as for drones and Internet of Things best positions it to attract various kinds of customers, starting with technology, industry and enterprise partners.

Smart started activating the next-generation network last month, starting with its 5G cell sites in Makati Central Business District and Clark Freeport Zone.

Through a 5G network, users can expect to experience higher speeds with lower latency, both required to handle a larger size of mobile broadband users and process massive machine type communications.

“5G is versatile. We can actually customize its ability according to the use cases, and there are many new opportunities that we need to take time to test out. That is exactly what we are now starting to do,” Mr. Horn added.

The company began testing 5G in the Philippines in 2016 and recorded average speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second using 100 megahertz and latency of 1 millisecond.

It built a “Smart 5G Technolab” in June, which serves as the company’s research and development hub for the technology.

PLDT Chairman, CEO and President Manuel V. Pangilinan earlier said the company is eyeing a bigger capex in 2019 from this year’s P58 billion, part of which will be for the developments of its 5G network.

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

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