WELL, that was fast.
During President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address, one of the most quoted lines (besides him not understanding what he was reading) was his threat to close down telco giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom unless their services improve by December.
“I call on our [telecommunication] companies to improve their services lest we be forced to take drastic steps to address the less-than-ideal service the public is getting from you…[Mag-hanap kayo] because if you are not ready to improve, I might just as well close all of you,” the President said emphatically as he talked about taking public utilities back to the government.
Two days later, Smart announced that its 5G service is going live as a commercial service starting July 30. For the initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers will be the first to enjoy the super-fast 5G data service in key business districts of Metro Manila. These areas include the Makati Central Business District (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area. Smart 5G will also be rolled out in key high-traffic areas such as North Avenue in Quezon City and Taft Avenue in Manila, as well as in Ortigas CBD and Clark Green City in Pampanga.
Take note: you first need to have a Smart-certified 5G-capable phone with 5G-activated SIMs to enjoy those wicked-fast speeds.
The telco’s deployment of 5G, however, isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the president’s speech as Smart has been working on its 5G network for years, conducting its first test in 2016. If I remember correctly, it fired up the country’s first 5G base stations in Makati with Huawei and the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga with Ericsson in November of 2018. Last year, Smart also launched the first Smart 5G Lifestyle hub and 5G-enabled shopping mall in Araneta City, as well as the first Smart 5G campus at the Ateneo de Manila University. Insider sources also told us that the July 30 launch was already on their schedule even before the president made his remark.
Executing the 5G deployment plan required a steady investment effort by PLDT and Smart that amounted to nearly P260 billion in overall capital expenditure (capex) over the past five years. In 2019 alone, the PLDT Group’s capex reached a record P72.9 billion. This capex program enabled PLDT and Smart to build the digital infrastructure including the deployment of an extensive optic fiber network. The group’s fiber network is the most pervasive in the country and extends to over nearly 360,000 kilometers as of June 2020.
Recognized as the fastest and most extensive in the country, Smart 4G/LTE and 3G coverage serves 95 percent of the country’s population. In its ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced roll-out, Smart has been installing 5G-capable equipment which will enable Smart to deploy 5G easier and faster.
“It has taken a lot of time and effort, but the future is now here,” said Jane J. Basas, Smart senior vice president and head of Consumer Wireless Business, in a statement.
Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and CEO, said the launch of the 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilizing the next generation of mobile technology. “For our customers, it opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying video, playing esports and using more powerful digital services,” he added.
Panilio added that they will rollout 5G in more areas of the country to complement the deployment of their 4G/LTE network.
The first five Smart 5G-certified devices from Samsung, realme, Huawei and Vivo are now available with the Smart Signature Device Plans S, M, L, and XL. For regular customers, they can sign up for a Smart Signature Plan at Smart Stores nationwide or via the Smart Online Store at store.smart.com.ph.
Hopefully we would be able to test the 5G speeds using our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra once we get our 5G postpaid SIM.
SMART, CIGNAL TV BRING BACK THE NBA
SMART has even more good news for basketball fans who miss watching the NBA games on their TVs. Smart and Cignal TV have just announced a multiyear partnership with the NBA to deliver the games and programming to fans in the Philippines through free-to-air, satellite television and over-the-top streaming. Beginning yesterday, July 31, TV5 and ONE Sports now broadcast live four NBA games every week. TV5 and ONE Sports will air select “seeding games” and playoff games through the first and second rounds, while the Conference Finals will be televised in its entirety between the two channels. The 2020 NBA Finals will be broadcast exclusively on TV5.
Through this partnership, Cignal will also launch NBA TV Philippines, a localized version of NBA TV—the league’s dedicated 24/7 channel—which will feature live games and original programming in high definition. Smart will livestream NBA TV Philippines through its new over-the-top service, which will be available exclusively to the network’s paid subscribers. Recently, Cignal TV announced discounted offers to HBO Go and hayu for its postpaid subscribers.
Smart will relaunch NBA.com/Philippines later this year to provide fans with access to game highlights, stats, standings, scores and schedules, as well as features and analysis from its roster of sports journalists.
GETTING READY FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
WITH classes resuming in a few weeks, Smart and Acer announced its partnership to give incoming students an affordable gadget bundle to help them participate in their online classes.
Parents can avail of the Smart School Bundle, which consists of an Acer Aspire 5 laptop, and a Smart Bro LTE Pocket WiFi. The 14-inch Aspire 5 laptop comes with an Intel Core i3 -813OU 2.2 GHz Base Speed with Turbo Boost up to 3.4 GHz, am 8GB DDR4 memory, 128 SSD + 1TB HDD. The bundle also already includes a Windows 10 Home OS, and other features that can help students cope with their school requirements. The Smart Bro LTE Pocket WiFi can help students connect to Smart’s LTE network across the country whenever they attend video conferences, or submit their homework online.
These gadgets are compliant with the Department of Education’s minimum specifications for devices for distance learning, as the country continues to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aside from students, this gadget bundle can also provide reliable tools and LTE connectivity to teachers, employees and other professionals who are also working from home.