Smart Communications fires up commercial 5G SA network in the Philippines

An urban scene in Makati city. (Image credit: lifelines from Pixabay)

The Philippines’ leading wireless provider, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has further ramped-up its 5G rollout as it fires up its commercial 5G SA sites in Makati City, powering up one of the first 5G SA networks in the world.

“Critical role in the advancement of massive IoT, health care and smart cities.”

Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT and Smart.

"Through the years, PLDT and Smart have been at the forefront of breakthrough innovations in the telco industry, including 5G. With the first batch of our 5G SA sites now fully operational, we are starting to see the true capabilities of 5G which will play a critical role in the advancement of massive IoT, health care and smart cities, delivering customer experience that is truly world-class" said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Inc and Smart Communications President and CEO.

Voice over New Radio

In firing up its first 5G SA sites at the PLDT and Smart headquarters in Makati, Smart has upgraded its 5G facilities, enabling them to connect with the 5G core network. With 5G SA in place, the service provider says it will soon be able to offer Voice over New Radio (VoNR) and network slicing capabilities, as well as support new industrial and enterprise opportunities. Indeed, Smart made its first successful VoNR call in July this year, at the Technolab in Smart Tower in Makati City.

“Creating opportunities for the Filipino Enterprises to compete in the global arena.”

Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart.

"Technology plays an important role in today's society as evidently seen during the pandemic. 5G and LTE have provided us with the means to stay connected with our loved ones, work, and study from our homes, and find means to keep ourselves entertained as we continue to keep our families safe. 5G SA, as an innovation platform, will create new opportunities for enterprises and consumers that will maximize its ultra-reliable and low latency capabilities. This enables industrial automation, autonomous mobile robotics deployment, safe remote crane operations, fast response in gaming and interactive video streaming, among others. We are creating opportunities for the Filipino Enterprises to compete in the global arena," said Mario G. Tamayo, Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart.

Philippines’ fastest 5G network 

According to third-party analytics firm Ookla, Smart is the Philippines’ fastest 5G network, based on results of 5G speed tests taken in Q1-Q2 2021. Additionally, Smart also operates the widest 5G network in the Philippines with over 4,000 sites deployed nationwide. This network is supported by parent company PLDT's fibre infrastructure, the Philippines' most extensive at over 524,000 kilometres as of end-June.

Smart first began exploring 5G in 2016, firing up the Philippines first 5G base stations in 2018 and making the first 5G SA powered video call in Southeast Asia in August 2019. The network has also teamed up with technology partner Ericsson in bringing the latest 5G technology and developing 5G use cases at the PLDT-Smart Technolab, which currently hosts one of the 5G SA sites.

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at