PLDT, Smart fire up PH’s first 5G cell sites in Makati and Clark

Leading telecoms company and digital services provider PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have fired up the country’s first 5G cell sites in the Makati Central Business District and at the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) in Pampanga.

PLDT and Smart on-aired the first 5G cell site at the PLDT headquarters in Makati City with technology partner Huawei, while it also activated the first 5G cell site at the Clark Smart 5G City in the CFZ with technology partner Ericsson. The 5G cell sites are 3GPP standard compliant and are the first to be activated in the Philippines.


Among top global operators

“I am happy to announce that PLDT and Smart just fired up the first 5G cell sites in the country, putting the company alongside the first-tier operators in the world to have deployed live 5G base stations. This is part of our commitment to bring the most advanced technologies to the country,” said PLDT and Smart chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

By firing up a 5G cell site in a central business district, PLDT and Smart are looking to pilot 5G solutions catered to densely populated areas.

“With 5G resources now in place, we are looking at developing 5G solutions and applications for central business district areas like Makati, which host a dense population of businesses, people and advanced devices,” said Ernesto R. Alberto, PLDT and Smart Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer.

This is in line with PLDT and Smart’s recently signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Clark Development Corp. to transform the CFZ into the country’s first Smart 5G City.

Powerful platform for solutions

“With 5G cell sites now live and on-air, we are now set to test 5G’s powerful platform to develop solutions such as autonomous vehicles, connected fleets, and smart buildings and factories, and be able to deliver 5G services to our customers soon,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor.

According to Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering, Smart is continuously upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements, including upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites around the country and deploying 5G-ready equipment in its ongoing nationwide LTE roll-out. In the CFZ, PLDT and Smart are also ramping up the roll-out of LTE in key areas and equipping all of them with 5G facilities in the coming months.

“I would like to congratulate PLDT and Smart for this momentous occasion as they lay the foundation for the network infrastructure, to take it to the next level as it enables the country to fully realize its ambition toward a more digitalized economy. I am very happy to be part of this partnership as we enable 5G capability in Smart network today,” said Ericsson’s Nunzio Mirtillo, Market Area Head for South East Asia, Oceania and India.

According to Arthur Wang, director of Huawei Philippines’ PLDT group account: “We are happy to partner with PLDT and Smart in helping bring 5G to PLDT-Smart. Through this partnership, we hope to continue developing more innovations to deliver digital services to PLDT and Smart customers.”

Powered by PH’s most extensive fibver network

Armed with both fixed and wireless infrastructure powered by the country’s most extensive fiber network now at over 221,000 kilometers, PLDT and Smart are best positioned to deploy 5G in the country.

5G opens up exciting possibilities for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and smart cities for Filipinos, particularly for the transport sector, traffic management, manufacturing, airport and mall operations, logistics and warehousing, retail, customer support, and smart homes, among others.

Apart from ultra-high speeds, the key features of 5G include enhanced mobile broadband services, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications. (Press Release)

Events Tech

Huawei launches Nova 2i in Cebu

Huawei unveiled in Cebu today its latest mid-range phone, the Huawei Nova 2i, and the company said local response has been “overwhelming.”

The Nova 2 was launched in key locations in Manila, Visayas and Mindanao today. In Cebu, the phone was launched in SM City Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu.

The first 100 buyers of the phone yesterday got a free JBL Flip 3 portable speaker.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
HUAWEI Nova 2i. Huawei area retail supervisor for Cebu Alvin Gales demonstrates key features of the Huawei Nova 2i during a press briefing held alongside the nationwide launch of the Huawei Nova 2i.

4 cameras, large display

The Nova 2i’s key features are its image quality with its 4 cameras and its large “FullView” 5.9-inch display.

“The Huawei Nova 2i pushes the boundaries of design with a massive 5.9-inch screen with FHD+ resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio. But while the screen may be big, the device remains compact thanks to a high screen-to-body ratio and slim metallic unibody,” the company said in its product information sheet.

The company said its dual front camera and dual rear camera allows users to “take stunning selfies and professional-looking photos with a bokeh effect.” It also offers an extensive array of options and controls for the camera, including the popular setting for wider aperture and one for food photos.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
CEBU LAUNCH. The Huawei Nova 2i was launched in Cebu today at the SM City Cebu (above) and Ayala Center Cebu.

Huawei chipset, battery

The phone is powered by a Huawei Kirin 659 octa-core chipset. The phone comes with a 3340 mAh battery. The use of AI to gauge how the owner uses the phone and the fact that Huawei created the chipset mean the phone is able to do more with its power capacity, bloggers and journalists were told in a briefing during the launch.

The phone comes with a 4GB RAM and a 64GB storage that is expandable via a memory card through its hybrid dual SIM setup. That means you can use the second slot either for a 2nd SIM or a memory card to increase storage capacity.

Huawei Nova 2i Cebu
NOVA 2I. Local response to the Huawei Nova 2i launch was “overwhelming,” a company official said.

The Nova 2i has LTE connectivity.

The phone comes with Aurora Blue, Graphite Black, and Prestige Gold. But for the launch, only Graphite Black is still available.

The Huawei Nova 2i retails for 14,990 and is available on a 0% 6-month plan via Home Credit.

Feature Lifestyle Tech

Huawei showcases P10 with portrait photography workshop in Cebu

Beautiful portraits, said fashion and beauty photographer Sara Black, “reveal untold stories.”

To improve your portraits, Black offers these tips: use lighting and consider the quality, direction, and color of the light; look for a good facial angle and ask the subject which she or he considers the best; take into account body dynamic, follow composition rules but feel free to break these, connect with your subject, and have your own style.

Black held a short workshop on mobile portrait photography at the Chateau de Busay in Lahug last June 1. The Behind Portrait Photography workshop was held to showcase the superior image quality of the Huawei P10.

Huawei P10, P10 Plus features

Huawei Philippines marketing director Corinne Bacani gave a detailed introduction to the P10 and P10 Plus during the event. Using the phone is like having a “photo studio in your pocket,” she said in her introduction.

“Make every shot a cover shot,” was how Huawei highlighted its camera, which was co-engineered with iconic brand Leica.

Huawei P10 Sarah Black
HUAWEI P10. Photographer Sara Black demonstrates the use of a Huawei P10 to take great portrait photographs.

The front or selfie camera is also a Leica, the first among phones. This allows the selfie camera to capture “2X more light” and “amazing self-portraits, whether day or night.”

“The Huawei P10 even senses groufies and automatically switches to wide-angle shots when more people enter the picture,” the company said.

Leica dual camera

The rear camera, however, is what makes the P10 stand out among flagship phones.

“The new Leica Dual Camera 2.0 uses precise 3D facial detection, dynamic illumination, and natural portrait enhancements to produce stunning artistic portrait shots in Leica image style,” the company said.

The P10 has a Leica Dual Camera 2.0 while the P10 Plus has a Leica Dual Camera 1.0 Pro Edition.

It has an easy option to do photo bokeh, where the subject stands out because the background is rendered blurred or out of focus while taking the shot. The bokeh options can be finely controlled in the P10 while taking the shot.

Trendy colors

Black showcased these as well as other outstanding imaging features of the phone in her talk.

“The most iconic portraits are defined by outstanding lighting and clarity of details. Working as a lifestyle photographer for many years now, I always place a premium on how these two elements are reflected in every shot I make, and the Huawei P10 makes this very convenient. They instantly give dramatic touches to every photo, revealing interesting stories or realities of every subject that are rarely captured even through words,” Black said.

The P10 comes in trendy colors, generated with the help of Pantone, like Dazzling Blue, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, and Greenery.

Huawei P10 Corinne Bacani
PHOTO STUDIO IN YOUR POCKET. Huawei Philippines marketing director Corinne Bacani gives a detailed introduction to the P10 and P10 Plus during the workshop.

Not only does the phone have formidable tech specs, it uses machine learning algorithms to make applications open and run faster, said Bacani.

Bacani added, “I’m glad people are curious to learn more about portrait photography, and with the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus’ arrival in the Philippines, I believe they now have the perfect devices to carry and express that curiosity and enthusiasm with them everywhere.”

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are available at P28,990 and P36,990 via Huawei Experience Stores and retail partners nationwide. It is also available via Globe ThePLAN 1799 for frere. The plan comes with 11GB of data, Unli-All Net Texts and Unli-Calls to Globe & TM, Netflix access for 6 months, Spotify Premium access for 3 months, HOOQ access for 6 months. The Huawei P10 can also be purchased either via any credit card at 0% interest for 6 and 12 months or Home Credit at 0% installment for 9 months without the need for a credit card.


Smart posts 1.4 Gbps data speeds using LTE-Advanced

Working with strategy and technology partner Huawei, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications (Smart) achieved test data speeds of 1.4 Gigabit per second (Gbps) using the cutting-edge data capabilities of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

In a series of laboratory tests done this month, Smart successfully combined five frequencies or “component carriers” using Carrier Aggregation, to consistently achieve data speeds in excess of one gibabit per second. Smart joins a handful of leading operators actively testing ultra-high speed wireless data capacity in anticipation of demand for gigabit-level speeds.

Carrier aggregation refers to the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.

Anticipate increasing demands

“Through these tests, we have demonstrated that we are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of mobile broadband customers,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor.

“It will take time for carrier aggregation on five frequencies to be deployed, largely because capable handsets are not yet commercially available. But the excellent results of these tests have encouraged us to roll out LTE-A using two or three component carriers which can already be utilized by several handset models in the market,” Horn said.

LTE-A capable handsets include Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 6s and 7, and Huawei P9.

Smart LTE carrier aggregation
HIGH-SPEED. Huawei product manager Daniel Peng (right) points out to Smart executives Mario Tamayo (standing, left) and Ramon Isberto the consistent, gigabit-speeds achieved by the tests using carrier aggregation. (Smart Public Affairs)

“LTE-A is the sharp edge of our efforts to bring high-speed mobile internet throughout the country through our LTE deployment program. LTE facilities, with strengthened transport links, can be quickly upgraded to LTE-A,” Horn said.

Smart’s efforts to boost its mobile internet capacity are complemented by PLDT’S ongoing deployment of fiber and high-speed DSL fixed line technologies which are also capable of delivering one-gigabit speeds.

Live network in Boracay

Last April, Smart fired up the country’s first LTE-A base stations in the resort island of Boracay. Combining three component carriers, where Smart achieved peak speeds of 250 Mbps on a single-user basis in a live network.

Today, Smart’s network on the island involves a multi-band LTE setup combining the low-band 850 MHz frequency and the high bands 1800, 2100, and 2300 MHz frequencies. This delivers average speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

LTE-A base stations will soon be activated in major urban areas such as Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila. This is part of Smart’s three-year plan focused on expanding LTE coverage, to bring high-speed internet service to 95% of the country.

Accelerating LTE deployment

“We are accelerating our LTE deployment because this provides us the platform to deliver faster, more reliable, and affordable internet services throughout the country,” added Horn.

In the three-year network roll-out plan that parent-company PLDT submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last July, Smart said it is focused on rapidly deploying LTE, to make it available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

This new roll-out plan includes the use for LTE of the 700 MHz frequency band that Smart obtained access to under a co-use arrangement as a result of the acquisition of the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) by PLDT and Globe Telecom last May.

In addition, Smart is also using the low-band 850 MHz frequency to expand its LTE coverage. Lowband frequencies like the 700 and 850 MHz have longer range and better indoor penetration. These enable Smart subscribers with compatible phones to have strong and stable internet connectivity in more areas, even when indoors. (Press Release)


Globe signs deal with Huawei to expand mobile network, elevate PH internet experience

Globe Telecom and Huawei Technologies have signed a 5-year partnership to further enhance and expand the telecommunication provider’s mobile network to elevate the state of Philippine Internet and strengthen its position as purveyor of Filipino digital lifestyle.

The partnership involves the planning and design of a mobile broadband network utilizing latest state of the art technology trends aimed at creating a wonderful digital world for its customers. The project also involves the creation of a “mobile innovation center” to produce innovative products and solutions to ensure that Globe maintains its competitive edge and leadership in the intensely competitive local telecommunications industry.

Globe, Huawei agreement

The partnership is provided for in a memorandum of understanding signed by Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu and Huawei Rotating CEO and vice chairman Eric Xu last November 23.

“Globe is committed in investing in and developing its mobile broadband network, understanding the needs of a growing chunk of our customers for high-speed data connectivity on their mobile devices as they continue to build their lives around a digital lifestyle,” Cu said. He said the partnership will deliver a more robust mobile network as well as innovative market-driven solutions to help hopefully ensure the company’s success in growing the mobile market.

According to Cu, the partnership with Huawei will extend towards capacity expansion of both Globe Telecom’s 3G and 4G network, comprising an upgrade of the mobile operator’s LTE network through deployment of LTE CA (carrier aggregation) technology for a more pervasive reach of the cutting edge mobile data technology. The partnership will also cover development of greenfield sites, deployment of small cell technology, extensive indoor coverage expansion program, core network upgrade and expansion of the company’s fiber footprint.

Growing data traffic

To sufficiently provide for the burgeoning data traffic amid growing smartphone use in the country, Cu emphasized there’s an immediate need for the reallocation and harmonization of the 700 megahertz of frequency originally allocated for broadcast.

“Globe has also taken the position that the 700 Mhz band is a major class of spectrum that has to be made available to major players and should not be held by just one player in the market,” said Cu. He maintained that harmonization of the 700 Mhz will help improve internet speed in the country, noting that only the Philippines hasn’t reallocated the 700 Mhz band for broadband.

“It is essential that the 700 Mhz frequency band is put to use to further enhance data connectivity in the country,” he said. Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp. holds all of the 700 Mhz in addition to their holdings of the 800,1800, 2300 ad 2500 frequency bands.

As early as 2005, Globe already wrote to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) requesting for an allocation and assignment of frequencies within the 700 Mhz and 800 Mhz for its broadband wireless network. The NTC, however, did not act favorably on its request.

Globe Huawei agreement
AGREEMENT. Globe chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (2nd from right) and Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu (extreme right) with Huawei Technologies executives Gao Kexin, CEO of Huawei Philippines (extreme left), Zhou Jianjun vice president of CNBG, South Pacific Region of Huawei (2nd from left) and Xu Zhijun, rotating CEO of Huawei (center). The executives signed the 5-year partnership between Globe and Huawei aimed at strengthening the Philippine mobile operator’s position as purveyor of Filipino digital lifestyle.


Optimize wireless network

As part of its continuing efforts to improve data experience of its customers, Globe became the first operator in the world early this year to deploy Huawei’s SingleSON (self-organizing network) solution, empowering the telco to effectively manage a more complex network and deliver on its promise of superior customer experience. The SingleSON solution has helped Globe optimize its wireless network performance, operation and maintenance (O&M) as it enables the telco to manage the explosive growth and development of mobile data services traffic, which is foreseen to continue into the next decade.

Huawei was also Globe Telecom’s technology partner when it implemented a $700 million network modernization program that began in 2011 that provided among others the adoption of latest telecommunication technologies for seamless customer experience and increased data capacities. The modernization initiative, completed last year, delivered the most advanced network infrastructure in the country, putting in a brand new access, transport, and core network nationwide. As part of the initiative, the company also completed a nationwide rollout of 4G network, using the HSPA+ technology. (Press Release)

Feature Tech TechNotes

REVIEW: Huawei Mate7 is a good, powerful big phone

MaxBlogWHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

I tested the phone for a few days this week and found the device a great option for those who prefer their phones with larger screens.

The Mate7’s 6-inch screen is bright and sharp. While it’s not quad HD, the difference isn’t by much, at least as far as I can see. I use an LG G3, which is a quad HD phone, and I didn’t see any glaring difference with the Mate 7’s display.

The phone packs a powerful octa-core CPU that’s more than up to the task of running any app or game. In my few days of using the device, I found it very responsive and quite zippy. I loved using it for work – managing emails with Mailbox, taking down and organizing notes using Google Keep and Evernote, working with interns in our startup via Slack, writing and editing using Google Docs, reading articles and keeping up with news updates via apps Flipboard, Pocket and Zite.

Huawei Mate7
PHABLET. The Mate7 has a 6-inch display, about the right size to use your phone as your main portable computer. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Powerful octa-core processor

I also used the phone to watch a couple of episodes of my favorite TV series The Newsroom, Person of Interest, Forever and The Flash and found the experience even better than watching these shows on the G3, primarily because of the larger screen and the more responsive performance of the Mate 7.

And what a processor it is. According to the company website, “boasting octa-core architecture, Mate7 has an intelligent Huawei Kirin 925 processor made up of four large A15 1.8 GHz and four small A7 1.3 GHz chipsets which are activated in different configurations depending on the power needs of a specific app or function so the smartphone can be smarter with power management.”

The phone saves up to 50 percent of battery life by using smaller A7 cores to run standard apps, which the company said consumers use “at least 80% of the time.” The phone uses the bigger A15 processors for high-demand use such as in gaming.

That explains why the phone was such a joy to use when I tried out a few games in it.

Huawei Ascend Mate7
UNBOXING THE ASCEND MATE7. The Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet with long battery life

Great battery life

The Mate7 has a 4100 mAh non-user removable lithium polymer battery – a beast considering its svelte frame. I got the device about half-way charged on a Monday and it still had power even by Wednesday night, after more than a day of heavy use taking photos – often trying its rapid-fire multiple shots capability by pressing continuously on the shutter button – watching TV shows, listening to music and podcasts and trying out a few games.

I gave it a full charge Wednesday night and used the phone for reading, checking emails and keeping up with news on Thursday and then doing a factory reset on Friday before returning the device and it still had more than 85 percent battery charge. Like I said, a beast.

The phone comes with an ultra power saving feature that the company said “is designed to intelligently shut down the most battery draining features as your phone starts to lose power, meaning that you get extra life with the last 10 percent of your battery.”

Emotion UI

The phone comes with Huawei’s EMUI or Emotion UI and it looks good. I’ve long used Nova Launcher and when I tried EMUI for the first time with the Mate 7, I found it visually refreshing and actually liked the experience of using that interface with the phone. I tried out a few of its themes and the selection was good.

The phone comes with Android 4.4 or Kitkat, the penultimate version as of this year.

Fingerprint scanner

The Mate7 comes with a fingerprint scanner located just below its camera lens. The company said the phone is “possibly the market’s first six-inch smartphone with instant single-touch fingerprint access to put an end to password fatigue.”

“It enables users to unlock the phone at least 80 percent faster than devices that use a slower sweeping recognition option,” Huawei said in its website.

I tried it on the test unit and it does live up to the company’s promise. The phone took only one touch to unlock the device using my fingerprint – a pretty nifty feature that saves you a lot of time (multiply the time it takes to enter your PIN by the number of times you check your phone in a day and you’d get a peek into how much time the system saves for you – time you can then on the latest viral mobile game).

Huawei Mate7
THIN FRAME. The Mate7 is just 7.9mm thin and looks very sleek.


The Mate7 comes with a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. It’s front camera is 5 megapixels. I used it to take a few test photos and liked the results, especially those taken in low light condition. It’s at par with my favorite cameraphone, the LG G3. The phone can do 1080p video recording and playback.


The phone comes with 16GB built-in memory that is expandable through a microSD card up to 128GB.


The company says the Ascend Mate7 uses a “dual antenna optimized to provide fewer dropped calls and smooth 4G LTE navigation.” It said the the device is compatible “with a wide range of network spectrums worldwide . . . and uses smart antenna switching to intelligently detect the strongest signal, choosing the ideal source for emission or reception of data.” The company said the device uses Cat6 4G LTE technology with a download rate of up to 300 Mbps within a compatible network.

The test unit I used was the amber gold model and it looked really good.

The package comes with a good quality folio case.

The Huawei Mate7 retails for P27,890 in regular phone stores and in retailers like Thinking Tools, which lent the unit used for this review.

For its price, the Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet that should be on top of your list if you’re planning to upgrade your phone this year.

Huawei Mate7 Test Photo
TEST PHOTO. A test photo taken with the Huawei Mate7 of the wooden robot on top of my computer in the Sun.Star Cebu central newsroom. Click on the photo to view the full size. I did not edit the photo and merely compressed it to save on file size using the TinyJPG service.

Huwaei Mate 7 specs

ROM: 16 GB
Display: 6 inches FHD Screen,1080p (1920 x 1080), 368PPI, 16M colors
CPU: Hisilicon Kirin 925 4×1.8GHz + 4×1.3GHz + 1x230MHz
OS: Android 4.4/Huawei Emotion UI 3.0
Camera: Rear: 13 megapixels, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus with LED flash, 1080p at 30fps; Front: 5 megapixels, 720p
Battery: 4100mAh
Height: 157.0mm
Width: 81.0mm
Thickness: 7.9mm
Weight: 185g (including the battery)