Now Corp. forges alliance with UnionBank for 5G

Local lender UnionBank signed last Wednesday, October 9, a memorandum of understanding with publicly listed ICT company Now Corporation and affiliate Now Telecom to utilize and promote the use of new generation telecommunication networks, including 5G wireless technology, in support of the bank’s digital transformation roadmap.

Photo shows (from left) Now Corp. chief technology officer Rene Rosales, UnionBank vice president for enterprise communication and collaboration Paulo Martin Santos, and Now Telecom president Rodolfo Pantoja

Now Corporation, which is currently the country’s largest fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband provider, has deployed Fiber Air technology deliver broadband services to enterprises, as well as commercial and residential buildings. 

It has established an FWA network infrastructure in Metro Manila and has connected more than 400 buildings with service coverage of up to two kilometers per building with no data caps.

“We are excited to work with UnionBank of the Philippines as we co-market the use of next-generation networks which includes 5G.  The potential for 5G in financial services would include reduced video lag for real-time video chat and consultations between bankers and consumers, full-power mobile pop-up branches, shift to the cloud for mobile banking, and more accurate fraud detection and cybersecurity,” Now Corp. deputy CEO Rodolfo Pantoja said.

Now Telecom, of which Pantoja is also the president, is a grantee of a 25-year congressional franchise to engage in the business of providing telecommunications services throughout the Philippines and other countries and territories, including outer space. It was also granted by the National Telecommunications Commission an authority to install, operate and maintain cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) services

UnionBank, for its part, has revolutionized the banking industry by going full throttle in terms of its digital banking offering in the Philippine market. It has even created its own financial technology unit, UBX, which holds its technology initiatives, platforms and investments in fintech companies.

Officials noted that 5G is going to drive the enterprise industry and UnionBank wants to be at the forefront of utilizing and promoting the use of new technologies in the banking system.

According to the MOU, UnionBank is embarking on resilient digital transformation which would be enabled by new capabilities and platforms, among which would be next-generation network (NGN) technology such as 5G.

The MOU would allow both parties to undertake co-marketing activities to promote Now’s broadband capabilities including NGN and UnionBank’s digital transformation, as well as technological products and services enabled by next-generation networks including 5G which both parties may collaborate on.

Last Oct. 2, Now Corp. entered into a multi-year agreement with UnionBank for the provision of guaranteed broadband Internet access in support of the bank’s digital transformation roadmap.  The first activated site with a one Gbps broadband connectivity via fixed wireless is UnionBank’s corporate headquarters in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Both parties also agreed to explore utilizing Now Fiber Air for its branches and for other sites owned and operated by the Aboitiz-led bank.

Now Corp. also announced last week its entry in the gigabit era by providing gigabit broadband plans to its subscribers. The roll-out of its gigabit broadband plans will be available in Metro Manila, mainly for its enterprise clients.

Now Corp. head of strategy Kristian Pura said they will push the envelope with their high capacity fixed wireless solution, which applies to prospective enterprise and retail subscribers. Existing enterprise subscribers, can however opt for gigabit upgrade.

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