Philippines lags globally in 5G usage but is fast catching up says Nokia

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2022 03:17 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2022 11:35 AM

MANILA - The Philippines is still playing catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to 5G usage despite being one of the first countries to deploy 5G in Southeast Asia, an official of Nokia said on Thursday. 

Nokia said 5G traffic is set to overtake 4G by 2026 globally. The transition to 5G will also eventually happen in the Philippines but may need a few more years according to Southeast Asia Chief Technology Officer Arthur Gerona.

“The other trend that I would like to highlight is that the growth of 5G, the overall data traffic from 5G will exceed that of 4G in the next couple of years globally. And the trend is the same in the Philippines, except that in the Philippines, we’re a couple of years lagging,” Gerona said. 

The Nokia official however also noted that the growth of data usage in the Philippines is “exponential” whereas it is “linear” in the rest of the world. 

“And in about 5, maybe seven years, the average usage of every Filipino user will be similar to what we would expect globally. So, we are catching up, right,” Gerona said. 

Local telcos’ shutdown of their 3G networks could also boost the growth in 5G since it is using the same bandwidth, he said. 

PLDT Inc earlier said it was accelerating the "sunsetting" of its 3G network to maximize assets. 

5G signal is currently limited to certain areas, but it is growing rapidly as telcos hasten the deployment of their 5G networks. 

Meanwhile, Nokia also said it is committed to helping Philippine enterprises transform as the demand for 5G connectivity grows across the globe.

The telco equipment vendor said its new Nokia Smart Node can enhance 5G connectivity indoors.

The Nokia Smart Node, which is like a "miniature 5G base station" for the home, is likely to be available in the country by the end of the year or in early 2023, Nokia Philippines head Carlos Reyes said. 

"We have a long history of working in the Philippines to accelerate digital transformation for businesses and the community, and we remain committed to delivering greater operational productivity and efficiency through our next generation-communication technology," Reyes said in a briefing.

Fixed line and mobile internet speeds in the Philippines have risen in recent years.

Broadband industry tracker Ookla noted improvement in 5G availability improved as Right of Way rules were eased and as telcos boosted their investment in 5G networks. 

The Philippines however has one of the lowest telco tower-to-subscriber ratios in Asia. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article said Nokia said the Philippines is behind its peers in 5G usage and rollout when the company only meant usage. We regret the error.


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