NOW taps Nokia as partner to deliver 5G solutions

Published December 2, 2020, 3:00 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

In a bid to expand and rollout a fifth generation (5G) standalone network in the country, the self-professed fourth telco, the NOW Group of Companies partnered with Finnish technology leader, Nokia.

NOW Corporation and affiliate NOW Telecom signed a memorandum of understanding with Nokia to collaborate and focus on the enterprise, government and residential market segments.

Todate, Nokia is a global leader in the delivery of 5G solutions, with 133 commercial 5G contracts worldwide.

NOW Group’s agreement with Nokia bringd about the multi-gigabit broadband Internet era in Philippine telecom, media, and technology markets, says founder and chairman Mel V. Velarde.

Mel V. Velarde, founder and chief executive officer of the NOW Group of Companies

“NOW’s strategy is to expand its guaranteed service to high-end markets via 5G fixed wireless access and extend this to consumers via 5G mobile cellular broadband service,” he explained.

“Having no legacy networks, NOW’s Stand-Alone 5G network shall rise above competition. With Nokia as our technology partner, we are confident we’ll succeed.”

Most 5G being deployed in other countries are non-standalone (NSA) which overlays 5G radio networks on existing 4G networks.

On the other hand, 5G standalone (SA) delivers enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency, supporting multimedia services and applications, such as Industry 4.0 for manufacturing, 8K video quality streaming, mobile AR and VR applications.
NOW intends to leverage Nokia’s expertise in 5G technology and its capabilities to bring the benefits of 5G to consumers while opening new opportunities in industrial and manufacturing use cases.

“We’re confident that our market-leading technology will set the right conditions for 5G to become a success in the Philippines,” noted Nokia Philippines country manager Andrew Cope.
A couple of months ago, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) renewed NOW Telecom’s  provisional authority (PA) to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system.

The authority is not specific to 3G or third generation mobile communications technology but can extend to other technologies such as 4G, 5G, or even outer space.
However, the PA is subject to a number of conditions.

NOW has to infuse an additional capital of at least P1.9 billion.

This was based its first two years capital expenditure of P6.3 billion in the rollout plan which the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved.
The NTC also required NOW Telecom to accelerate installing broadband data service in the suburban and rural areas.

In each phase of project implementation, the telco should comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage.
The NTC extended NOW Telecom’s license, noting its debt-to-equity ratio complies with the commission’s 70-30 requirement.

The telco has a P15.9 billion capital requirement for five years and has to infuse P1.89 billion, at least 30 percent of its total capex requirement for two years.
In February 22, 2018, President Duterte approved the renewal of Now Telecom’s legislative franchise for another 25 years.

Hence it can provide telecom services, including electronic communications throughout the country, between the Philippines and other countries or other territories, including outer space.
Now Corp., is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G or fifth generation network rollout.
NOW Telecom is also assessing whether to list its shares on the local bourse or within the region, given its medium-term business plans.
Earlier, Velarde revealed tlthey are moving forward with the corporate restructuring of NOW Telecom to take it to the next level.

“NOW Corp and NOW Telecom were the first to introduce 5G broadband speed of up to 2Gbps direct to our existing enterprise clients. Our next move is to extend the service to the residential and consumer markets,” he pointed out.
NOW Telecom also revealed it plans to spend $713 million for its five-year 5G fixed wireless access business plan.

The company aims to deploy its 5G FWA network in the National Capital Region and offer a broadband plan of up to 10 gigabit per second service.
Of its $713 million investment, NOW expects $152 million will be used in the first three years, mostly to acquire new 5G radio equipment.
NOW Telecom is building on its strength, particularly business enterprises, highly dense residential areas, high-end residential homes, and high-rise buildings.

The telco believes it is well-positioned in the enterprise and high-end residential market via 5G FWA, which has few players.