Last week, both Globe Telecom and Smart announced their 5G plans in the Philippines. While Smart merely revealed they’ve been only able to test 5G speeds of up to 6.5Gbps in their test labs, Globe managed to do a field demonstration during their launch at the Iconic Store in High Street BGC with sustained speeds of between 2 to 3Gbps.
The 5G network will allow for higher bandwidth speeds, lower latency and better capacity. Likewise, using Air Fiber technology, this network will provide wireless broadband speeds between 50Mbps to 100Mbps. That’s already comparable to existing wired broadband speeds and the advantage is that it is faster and easier to roll out nationwide.
Having used Globe’s Prepaid LTE Home WiFi for over a year now, there is a lot of promise in this direction. Currently, the existing device uses the 700MHz LTE frequency and is able to deliver speeds between 10Mbps up to 40Mbps in various locations in Metro Manila that I’ve tested.
In the province, where I would also bring the device on trips, I would get somewhere between 6Mbps to 10Mbps half the time where there’s decent LTE signal. Obviously, the experience in Metro Manila and other major cities are better than in rural areas where I’ve tested it.
Once the 5G network is rolled out, I’d expect something better than the current speeds I am getting. Globe has promise to get something commercially available by the Q2 of 2019. That’s still about a year from now but compared to other countries in our region, that’s bold commitment.
Using 5G network as an alternative to fixed wired connection has its own advantages and disadvantages:
- Faster and Easier to Deploy. Unlike traditional fiber connections, there will no more digging and laying out of fiber cables as well as problems with “right of way”. Putting up a 5G network in an area will almost instantaneously give everyone in the vicinity fast wireless broadband.
Fixed Wireless wit Nomadic Characteristics. While it’s ideal to have the 5G modem in a fixed location to guarantee some level of signal and performance, it is still possible to carry and bring around the device wherever you go. Of course, the experience in speeds and signal reception will vary once you do this.
Prepaid Option. Unlike fixed wireless broadband where you need to pay for installation fees and commit to contract period, existing fixed wireless services are available in prepaid packages. This means you can buy a prepaid kit and test out the signal and speed performance in your area without committing to a long-term service plan. If the signal in your area is weak or unsatisfactory, just sell the prepaid kit in OLX and move on to the next available option.
Of course, a wired connection is still better than wireless connection in terms of stability and speed. That’s one obvious disadvantage of a 5G network as a broadband option.
However, in areas where alternatives to older lines like DSL, cable or satellite internet, a 5G network can be a better and/or cheaper option.
Of course, all these are just promises as of now. We’ll have to wait for further developments from both telcos and we’ll surely revisit this topic about a year from now.