NOW Telecom Company Inc. said Wednesday it plans to commercially launch its “True” 5G mobile and wireless broadband services in the country by 2024.
NOW Telecom chairman and chief executive Mel Velarde said at the sidelines of the Joint Cybersecurity Working Group Session on 5G Security in Makati City that the company secured a P118-million ($2.15 million) grant from the US Trade and Development Agency to fund a feasibility study for the development of reliable and secure nationwide 5G mobile and broadband networks in the Philippines.
“After that, what the US government wanted to know is exactly how much money is needed to deploy 5G nationwide and the national broadband network nationwide,” Verlarde said.
“Once the amount is determined, based on the study on building the optimum network then we will go to the next stage —financing, equity raising to really do this up to the countryside,” he said.
Velarde said the pilot study is expected to be completed by the third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2023. He said that after the pilot test, “our plan now is to expand by 2024 moving forward, that’s our goal.”
“Right now, we have pre-5G in Fiber Air. It’s a 5G speed, but it’s not True 5G yet,” Velarde said, adding that the company plans to deploy standalone 5G network nationwide.
NOW Telecom selected New Jersey-based Bell Labs Consulting, part of Bell Labs, the research arm of Nokia, to conduct the study.
Under the USTDA grant, the feasibility study will provide NOW Telecom with the necessary analysis, designs and plans for the phased implementation of the project.
It will also include the establishment of a 5G pilot network at multiple sites in Metro Manila to validate network performance, test 5G use cases and provide data to inform larger scale deployment.
The project aims to support the digital transformation of the Philippines by helping to meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth, reliable and secure digital services from households and industry in the Philippines.
The feasibility study grant furthers U.S. digital policy in line with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which aims to promote secure digital infrastructure in the region to bolster economic growth and facilitate open digital societies.