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NOW Telecom eyes commercial launch of 5G mobile, wireless network by 2024

After securing a grant from the US government for a pilot study on 5G deployment, NOW Telecom Company Inc. is planning to commercially launch its stand-alone 5G mobile and fixed wireless network in the country by 2024.

At the sidelines of the Joint Cybersecurity Working Group Session on 5G Security in Makati City on Tuesday, NOW Telecom chairman and CEO Mel Velasco Velarde said the company secured a P118 million ($2.15 million) grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTA) for the pilot feasibility study for the development of 5G mobile and broadband 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,” Velarde said.

Under the study, the company and the USTDA will establish a pilot 5G network in key business districts in Metro Manila to test 5G use cases and to gather data for wide-scale deployment.

“We will know the performance, some metrics that will indicate the experience of certain industries, even households,” Velarde said.

The NOW Telecom chief said that once the pilot study is finished, which is targeted to be completed by the third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2023, the company “will go to the next stage —financing, equity raising to really do this up to the countryside.”

Velarde said that immediately after the pilot test is finished, “our plan now is to expand by 2024 moving forward.”

He said it will be commercially available and will be NOW Telecom’s stand-alone 5G mobile and fixed wireless service.

“It will be a stand-alone 5G because we don’t have legacy systems,” the NOW Telecom chief said.

NOW Telecom has tapped New Jersey-based Bell Labs Consulting, part of Bell Labs, the research arm of Nokia, to conduct the study.

The grant agreement was signed by Velarde and Nokia Bell Labs managing partner Stefan Wilhelm during the 10th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila on January 20. 

The grant-funded 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 country.—LDF, GMA Integrated News