MANILA -- The Philippines' largest telecom company PLDT will launch its 5G mobile service on Thursday using equipment supplied by China's Huawei Technologies and Sweden's Ericsson.
The surprise announcement comes just days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the country's telecom duopoly -- PLDT and Globe Telecom -- to improve services or face closure. PLDT had originally been expected to begin services in the fourth quarter of this year.
The launch marks another win for Huawei in the Philippines as the embattled Chinese equipment manufacturer pleads with carriers to stick with it amid a U.S. crackdown on the company. Last year, Globe launched its pilot 5G service using Huawei equipment.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a visit in Manila last year, warned about security risks in using Huawei equipment. But the Philippine government, which has awarded a telecom license to a unit of China Telecom, said companies can chose their own suppliers.
PLDT uses both Huawei and Ericsson equipment in its existing networks, and both were widely expected to be involved in its 5G buildout. However Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said last year the company had also engaged Nokia, ZTE and Cisco for its 5G foray.
"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," said Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT's chief revenue officer and CEO of mobile unit Smart.
"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."
The 5G service will be initially available in various business districts in Metro Manila and Clark, a former U.S. military base turned economic hub. Smart will also start offering 5G-certified devices from Huawei, Samsung, RealMe and Vivo.
PLDT counts Japan's NTT Group as one of its key shareholders, while Globe is partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications.