PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications said on Monday, Aug. 5, that it has successfully made the first 5G standalone (5G SA) video call in Southeast Asia, using Nokia’s 5G SA equipment at the PLDT-Smart 5G Technolab in Makati City.
PLDT-Smart executives led by chief information and technical advisor Joachim Horn, Smart chief financial officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT business transformation office head Ricky Vargas, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering Mario G. Tamayo, as well as Nokia officials led by country head for the Philippines Andrew Cope made the video call using Nokia’s 5G SA core, radio and user equipment installed at the PLDT-Smart 5G Technolab.
5G SA has been described as ‘pure 5G’ as it relies solely on 5G for data transmission, and allows the full benefit of 5G capabilities to be tested and demonstrated. In contrast, 5G NSA (non-standalone) combines the use of 5G and existing 4G/LTE resources to transmit data.
5G SA technology paves the way for a variety of new industry applications that utilize 5G’s full features, such as massive connectivity for thousands of devices, ultra-low latency of under 10ms, ultra-high reliability, distributed cloud computing, unified security, and network slicing, among others.
“This is the first 5G implementation which is completely standalone. We don’t need LTE for it. Most 5G implementations today actually need LTE — in fact they’re actually only fast LTE,” said Horn.
“What we’re seeing here — this is real 5G. For the first time, we are experiencing the true capabilities of 5G. For example, 5G’s real low latency can only be achieved in this configuration. This is just the first milestone to show what is possible, and we brought it here to the Technolab,” Horn added.
Ultra-low latency is important for 5G use cases such as video analytics plus industrial robotics control for manufacturing, remote crane/tractor operations in challenging/hazardous environments like mines and ports as well as for real-time gaming with tactitle sensors (chest impact suit, gloves and tactile feedback enabled weapons).
In March, PLDT-Smart and Nokia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deploy 5G SA solutions in the Philippines, particularly for schools. Using the combined capabilities of the PLDT-Smart 5G Technolab and the Nokia Technology Center in Quezon City, the companies are collaborating to identify innovative 5G SA solutions, such as artificial intelligence, drones, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, for example.
In April, PLDT-Smart launched the Ateneo de Manila University as the first “Smart 5G campus”. Under the MoU, PLDT-Smart and Nokia will help set up the Ateneo’s Convergent Technologies Center with a 5G lab, enabling Ateneo’s students and tech experts to co-develop practical and relevant solutions.
Among the applications being eyed for development are IoT solutions, Augmented and Virtual Reality services, robotics, drones, and analytics. To support these research activities, Smart is also deploying 5G base stations in the Ateneo campus.
Smart and Nokia first explored 5G in 2016, when they 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.