PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. have forged an agreement with the Araneta Group to launch 5G technology in premier lifestyle hub Araneta City and transform it into the country’s first Smart 5G Lifestyle Hub, which will feature the country’s first 5G indoor deployment and the first 5G-enabled shopping mall.
Virtual reality, cloud gaming and enhanced mobile broadband on 5G-capable devices were also among the technologies showcased during the launch.
Meanwhile, Smart has also already rolled out fast, free and open fiber-powered Wi-Fi connectivity through Google Station in key areas, including Gateway Mall, Smart Araneta Coliseum, New Frontier Theater and the Araneta City bus port, to name a few.
PLDT-Smart and Araneta executives led by PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan and Araneta Group of Companies chair Jorge L. Araneta were present at the signing ceremonies, which also featured 5G use cases demonstration and pocket activities.
“Over the years, we have worked with the Araneta Group in achieving their vision to elevate the experience of Filipino mall-goers. Today, we are taking another big step forward into the future and revolutionizing the Filipino entertainment experience by deploying cutting-edge digital technology and high-quality connectivity in the country’s first Smart 5G Lifestyle Hub, Araneta City,” Pangilinan said.
Also at the launch were PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT-Smart Enterprise Head Juan Victor I. Hernandez, PLDT Chief Technology and Information Advisor Joachim Horn, SVP for Business Development John Castelo, Senior Management Consultant Rowell Recinto and SVP for Operations Antonio T. Mardo.
“Last year, we fired up our first 5G base stations in Clark and Makati and launched the first Smart 5G Cities. Earlier this year, we launched the first Smart 5G Campus in Ateneo, and the Smart 5G Alliance. Today, we are marking another milestone in our 5G journey, this time by enabling Araneta City to be the country’s first full 5G coverage lifestyle hub,” said Panlilio.
With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up many possible applications for the Internet of Things and smart cities, as well as smart applications for the retail, transport, manufacturing, logistics and warehousing sectors, as well as intelligent solutions for customer support and smart homes, among others.
“5G is a versatile technology that can provide a more flexible and powerful platform for entirely new services. Its capabilities can be customized according to the use cases, and with this partnership, we look forward to piloting 5G-powered entertainment services here in Araneta City,” said Horn.
Citing the ecosystem created by the deployment of fiber-powered Wi-Fi and 5G technology in Araneta City, PLDT Enterprise Core Business Solutions Head Jojo Gendrano said that given Araneta City’s concerts and eSports events, it is the “perfect venue” to test various applications for mall and concert guests, gamers and merchants.
Activities Smart launched during the event include gaming, virtual reality and cloud gaming and enhanced broadband showcases, where people can readily experience for themselves how 5G technology can help deliver 5G services using the devices on display.
The showcase included laptops, mobile phones, desktops and other equipment by Republic of Gamers and PC Express. ROG also staged tournaments in the Gaming Hub. Meanwhile, 5G-ready mobile phones from Huawei were also available for testing at the Gateway main activity area.
Google Station in Araneta City
Smart has also deployed carrier grade Wi-Fi connectivity with Google Station in heavy foot-traffic areas in Araneta City. To date, Google Station is already available in Gateway Mall, Gateway Tower and Gateway Gallery, Coliseum Arcade, Ali Mall, Farmers Plaza, Shopwise Arcade, Cyberpark 1, New Frontier Theater, Manhattan Parkway, Parkview and Heights Arcade, Telus Arcade, Farmers Market-Dampa, Aurora Tower Arcade, Smart Araneta Coliseum and Araneta City Bus Port.
These Araneta City venues are part of the growing list of more than 600 Google Station sites nationwide that Google and Smart announced.
Google Station has also been deployed in government offices, city and provincial halls, hospitals, tertiary schools, and transportation hubs like airports and seaports.
The nationwide rollout of Google Station complements Smart’s ongoing network expansion and modernization program across the Philippines. For more information, visit https://smart.com.ph/Pages/smart-wifi and https://station.google.com/.
Best positioned to deploy 5G
Armed with both fixed and wireless infrastructure powered by the country’s most extensive fiber network now at over 307,000 kilometers, PLDT and Smart are best positioned to deploy 5G in the country.
In its ongoing LTE and LTE-Advanced roll-out, Smart is also deploying 5G-capable equipment, and is also upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements, including upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites nationwide.
Smart has been testing 5G since 2016, when it achieved speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with latency of just 1 millisecond over a ‘live’ network—the first in the Philippines.
Its recent 5G efforts include the launch of the Smart 5G Alliance, which is composed of global tech leaders and local stakeholders across the business, government and academe sectors, and is envisioned as an accelerator for 5G innovations in the Philippine setting. Earlier this year, Smart also successfully made the first 5G standalone video call in Southeast Asia at the PLDT-Smart 5G Technolab in Makati City.