Globe CEO Ernest Cu announced plans to roll out fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology to boost the company's home broadband business by next year
For years Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. have been slugging it out to become the country’s leading telecommunications company.
After Globe displaced PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communication as the Philippines’ largest mobile phone company in 2016 in number of subscribers, the battle shifted to home broadband. Here, PLDT still has a clear lead with a subscriber base of 4.2 million against Globe’s 1.4 million.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Globe Telecom is moving to cut down PLDT’s wide lead in the home broadband market.
“As much as we’ve done so well in mobile and wireless, we’re still number two in home broadband. That’s an admission from us. As always, Globe will aspire to becoming number one in the home,” said Ernest Cu, Globe Telecom CEO on June 8, when the company announced plans to roll out fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology to boost its home broadband business by next year.
By mid-2019, Globe hopes to be able to offer Internet speeds of 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps to wireless data users, matching the speeds of cable-based fiber-optic connections. With this, even prepaid subscribers can enjoy fiber-like speeds using affordable data plans.
Currently, Globe’s current fiber-powered broadband service is exclusively offered to postpaid subscribers with monthly plans ranging from Php999 to Php2,899, promising three to 100 Mbps download speeds. “Fifty to 100 Mbps are totally reserved to postpaid subscribers,” Cu said. “This is now [what] we would want to bring down to the masses.”
According to Globe’s Chief Technology and Information Officer Gil Genio, subscribers can expect mobile data services to be around 30 percent cheaper in contrast to this year’s prices by 2019 with the rollout of 5G technology.
Globe executives said the company would be using Huawei’s latest MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) product, a technology that can boost cell site capacity by two to three times without the need for additional spectrum
“Least price today for mobile internet is about Php50 per GB (gigabyte), that’s already standard price. The new technology allows us to deliver more data more efficiently. So when we move from 1G to 2G, 3G to 4G, all of those prices went from hundreds to Php50 per gig. Easily that already translates to 30 percent drop because only with the latest technologies can you begin delivering more capacity for lower cost,” he explained.
The Globe executives said the company would be using Huawei’s latest MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) product, a technology that can boost cell site capacity by two to three times without the need for additional spectrum, to make the 5G rollout possible. According to Genio, around 300 cell sites are equipped with the technology.
He added that in the initial 5G rollout, urban areas will be the first to enjoy the new download speeds as the technology requires cell site density.
PLDT had also made an announcement early this year that around half of its current DSL subscribers will start enjoying “50 to 100 Mbps” download speed by the end of 2018. To achieve this, the company is aiming to double its fiber and hybrid fiber broadband capacity to over 2.2 million ports nationwide by December.
It may not have 5G by next year, but the company is looking to build 6,800 LTE-equipped cell sites and 8,000 3G-equipped cell sites by 2019.
All these announcements and investments come at a time when the government is in the process of selecting a third telco player, expecting more competition would result in better and cheaper telecom services.
As of May 2018, average download speed of fixed broadband in the country hit only 17.73 Mbps while the equivalent speed for mobile data is only 14.05 Mbps, ranking 84th and 97th respectively out of 135 countries, according to Ookla’s Global Speed Test Index.
Elysa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz