From exploring low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite partnerships and deploying Philippine-first innovations on their network, to establishing an integrated operations center for enhanced disaster response, PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications have bolstered their position as leaders in network innovations in 2022.
“These initiatives are part of PLDT and Smart’s commitment to stay ahead of the curve as leaders in innovation in the Philippines by investing continuously to improve our network and keeping abreast with new technologies,” said Eric Santiago, PLDT Network Head. “Our ultimate goal is to level up our customers’ experience, enable the digital lifestyles of Filipinos, and help the country achieve its digitalization aspirations,” he added.
Exploring opportunities to use innovations in the satellite industry to expand their high-speed mobile and internet services to more hard-to-reach communities across the Philippine archipelago, PLDT and Smart collaborated with global satellite operators to test LEO technology.
In February, PLDT and global satellite operator Telesat of Canada successfully conducted the Philippines’ first on-orbit testing of high-speed broadband connectivity with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO Satellite — a first for Telesat with any operator in Southeast Asia.
Smart announced another collaboration in August, this time with US-based Omnispace to explore the capabilities of space-based 5G communications using LEO satellites.
Smart is also working with AST SpaceMobile to conduct tests of AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite, which is being designed to communicate directly with unmodified mobile phones from LEO satellite. Smart will be the first to test this technology in the Philippines.
In addition to these collaborations, PLDT and Smart also deployed groundbreaking technologies on the network as part of the company’s continuous network transformation program to improve customer experience.
Among these is the rollout of Segment Routing Over IPv6 (SRv6), which enhances the network’s efficiency to deliver 5G, home broadband, and Enterprise services. Initially deployed in Metro Manila in April, PLDT was the first Philippine telco to achieve the milestone.
PLDT and Smart also piloted a common virtualized network infrastructure (NFVI) for its network and IT applications. A first in the Philippines, this NFVI houses PLDT and Smart’s network elements and helps ensure seamless interoperability across the network. Having a common virtualized infrastructure also enhances PLDT’s business continuity and disaster recovery response, as well as minimizes service downtime.
In September, PLDT and Smart also inaugurated the PLDT and Smart Integrated Operations Center (IOC), which now houses the Group’s network teams. With its top-tier network monitoring and multimedia conferencing facilities, the IOC enhances PLDT and Smart’s capability to deliver leveled-up services and enables the Group’s network teams to identify areas affected by service outages immediately, and proactively reach out to impacted customers, especially in the event of disasters and calamities.
Marking another milestone in March, Smart also successfully deployed a fully functional, end-to-end network slicing Proof of Concept (PoC) on its 5G Stand Alone (SA) network, which was completed at the PLDT and Smart Technology Laboratory (Technolab). In the said PoC, Smart successfully demonstrated that a “slice” could allocate and reserve resources within the network for specific services and customers, showing that Smart’s network is capable of offering differentiated services via these network slices, delivering quality of service that is tailor-fit to the needs of businesses and consumers.
These investments are aligned with the Group’s commitment to be at the forefront of innovation in the country. Recently, PLDT also unveiled the country’s biggest data center, Vitro Sta Rosa; inaugurated the Jupiter Cable System, which is the fastest cable system between the Philippines and the US and Japan; and marked the cable landing of the Asia Direct Cable (ADC) system, the 9,400-kilometer fiber optic route from the Philippines to East and Southeast Asia. These facilities help strengthen the country’s position as the next hyperscaler hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
These innovations are supported by the country’s most extensive fiber network, which had spanned more than 1.09 million kilometers in international and domestic fiber as of end-September. This fiber infrastructure also supports Smart’s mobile network, which covers 97% of the population with 3G, LTE, and 5G.
These have enabled the PLDT Group to contribute greatly to helping the government realize its ambition to level up the country’s digital infrastructure, putting the Philippines at par with the rest of Asia and the world.