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US provides P118 M grant to support 5G deployment in Phl

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The United States government, through the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), is providing NOW Telecom Company, Inc. a Php 118 million ($2.15 million) grant to fund a feasibility study for the development of reliable and secure nationwide 5G mobile and broadband networks in the Philippines.

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

From Left: Nokia Bell Labs Managing Partner Stefan Wilhelm (seated left) and NOW Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mel Velasco Velarde (seated right) sign the Php 118 million USTDA grant in the presence of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and DICT Undersecretary Angelo Nuestro.

The grant agreement was signed by NOW Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mel Velasco Velarde and Nokia Bell Labs Managing Partner Stefan Wilhelm during the 10th U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila on January 20.  United States Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, and Philippines Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Undersecretary for Connectivity Angelo Nuestro witnessed the signing.

“This 5G grant demonstrates the U.S. commitment to developing quality digital infrastructure and increasing access to affordable connectivity in the Philippines,” Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink said.

For his part, DICT Undersecretary Nuestro said, “The open innovation platform that this partnership seeks to give will enable the broader Philippine society to take a leap towards a connected future.  We welcome these opportunities that will improve the lives of Filipinos.”

Under the USTDA grant, the feasibility study will provide NOW Telecom with the necessary analysis, designs, and plans for the phased implementation of the project.  It will also include the establishment of a 5G pilot network at multiple sites in Metro Manila to validate network performance, test 5G use cases, and provide data to inform larger-scale deployment.

This 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 industry in the Philippines. 

The feasibility study grant furthers U.S. 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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