Now secures U.S. grant for 5G bid

The project also supports the current administration’s key agenda of digital infrastructure

Nokia Bell Labs managing partner Stefan Wilhelm (seated left) and NOW Telecom chairperson and chief executive officer Mel Velasco Velarde (seated right) sign the P118 million USTDA grant in the presence of US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink (standing, left) and DICT Undersecretary Angelo Nuestro (standing, right). | Photograph courtesy of US Embassy in the Philippines

The United States of America has agreed to finance Now Corp.’s telecom unit’s planned development of a secure fifth-generation or 5G standalone network infrastructure in the country to boost nationwide connectivity.

In a report to the bourse on Monday, Now Corp. of businessman Mel Velarde disclosed signing a grant agreement with the US Trade and Development Agency to fund technical assistance and a 5G pilot network launch.

The agreement was signed last Friday, 20 January, in a ceremony held during the 10th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila.

The USTDA, in a statement, said it will provide a P118 million grant to fund a feasibility study for the development of a reliable and secure nationwide 5G mobile and broadband network.

Now Telecom has selected New Jersey -based Bell Labs Consulting, part of Bell Labs, the research arm of Nokia, to conduct the study.

Phl, US execs attend signing

Government officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson witnessed the signing of the agreement.

Department of Information and Communication Technology Undersecretary for Connectivity Angelo Nuestro also attended the event.

Based on the agreement, Now Corp. said it will initially design and implement a pilot 5G SA network in Metro Manila before launching a nationwide standalone 5G wireless network.

Eventually, the project will also help in crafting the plan for a nationwide broadband network.

“The project advances priorities of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, (to develop, expand,) and deploying secure digital infrastructure to power economic growth and facilitate open digital societies,” Now Corp. said in its filing.

“The project also supports the current administration’s key agenda of digital infrastructure,” it added.

The 5G project aims to support the digital transformation of the Philippines by helping to meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth, reliable, and secure digital services from households and industries in the Philippines.

The feasibility study grant furthers US digital policy in line with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which aims to promote secure digital infrastructure in the region to bolster economic growth and facilitate open digital societies.


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