MANILA, Philippines — PLDT has started the commercial rollout of its 5G service in an effort to provide a higher level of customer experience and “super-fast” data service.

PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. said its 5G mobile phone network is going live as a commercial service starting today.

“After many years of preparation and sustained investments, we’re very happy to say that Smart subscribers can now try out and enjoy the super-fast data service that Smart 5G can deliver,” PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said.

As part of the initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers in the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs will be able to use the super-fast data service of Smart 5G.

Smart said its 5G service is also being rolled out in key high-traffic areas such North Avenue in Quezon City and Taft Avenue in Manila, as well as in Ortigas CBD, and Clark Green City in Pampanga.

Smart will also launch its initial lineup of Smart 5G-certified devices from Huawei, Samsung, RealMe and Vivo, which will be available with Smart Signature plans in select Smart Stores.

“The launch of Smart’s 5G service enables the Philippines to level up and join the ranks of countries utilizing the next generation of mobile technology. For our customers, it opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying video, playing esports and using more powerful digital services,” Panlilio said.

5G is the latest wireless internet connectivity that promises faster speeds, higher bandwidth, and more stable internet connection.

“As we rollout 5G in more areas of the country, this will complement the deployment of our 4G/LTE network which is already the fastest and most extensive in the country. To date, Smart 4G/LTE and 3G coverage serves 95 percent of the country’s population,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio said in a recent interview with the Oxford Business Group that the group’s 5G implementation would likely be delayed to the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.

PLDT, however, said yesterday it would launch 5G “step-by-step,” starting with its launch today.

Starting today, PLDT will  rollout its 5G services across the country.

Smart said the strategy to deploy 5G has been embedded in company’s network planning over the past five years, as it started conducting tests with 5G in 2016.

Smart fired up the country’s first 5G base stations in Makati with Huawei and the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga with Ericsson in 2018.

Last year, it also launched the first Smart 5G Lifestyle hub and 5G-enabled shopping mall in Araneta City, as well as the first Smart 5G campus at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Just recently, Smart opened the country’s first 5G-powered gaming hub in Quezon City, with peak speeds hitting one Gbps.

PLDT’s capex for this year is expected to reach P70 billion despite the slowdown in network rollout due to the quarantine controls imposed in the second quarter.