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Smart, Ericsson join forces for 5G-ready workforce

As part of its future-proofing efforts, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and its technology partner Ericsson have teamed up to further bring 5G closer to more stakeholders, particularly to PLDT and Smart employees, members of the academe, and IT and engineering students, through a 5G Technofest meant to showcase the different possibilities of 5G.

“Everybody knows 5G is coming. Some say next year, some say later. With this demonstration, we want to give you a flavor of what 5G could be,” said PLDT chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn, speaking to a crowd of Smart and PLDT employees gathered at the Technofest launch. “More than getting the network ready for 5G, it is also important for the workforce to be ready for it as well,” he added.

Selected faculty members from partner schools of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP) also attended the two-day Technofest. A long-running collaboration between Smart and the academe, SWEEP aims to raise the standards of engineering and IT education in the country.

Held at the Smart main office in Makati, the Technofest featured Ericsson’s Robotic Arm, Balancing Robot, Smart City Model, Connected Mangroves and Connected Fleet technologies.
Horn explained that 5G is going to be very different from 4G, which is mainly the mobile broadband fast internet platform.

“We know 5G would be much faster and cheaper than 4G. But that’s not the reason why we’re introducing 5G. The main reason is that it’s a very versatile platform for completely new set of applications. In 5G, the focus moves from providing the pipe to providing the environment for very different applications, for a very different group of customers, enterprises, consumers,” Horn said.

Strategy bearing fruit

“More than three years ago, Mr Horn talked to us about Smart’s technology strategy—best customer experience, technology leadership, and 5G-readiness,” said Ericsson vice president and key account manager Anthony Valdez. “We have come a long way and we have started to see the fruits of that strategy and its execution. We are seeing best customer experience wherever we have deployed LTE.”

“We have also come a long way in terms of readiness in 5G. Whatever LTE equipment we are deploying today with Smart, those are already 5G-ready. It’s just a matter of upgrading the software,” Valdez added.

Also at the event to learn from Ericsson resource persons at the Technofest exhibits were faculty members from SWEEP partners University of Makati, Mapua University and Batangas State University.

5G and the academe

“It is very important for the academe to be exposed to the latest developments in the industry, because the academe takes the cue from the industry players. They’re the ones who have the technology,” said Apollo Mambiar, dean of UMak’s College of Technology Management.

“Technology has an impact in curriculum development and content. The introduction of 5G will challenge professors to keep their curriculum and learning objectives updated,” he added. “If the academe is unable to adapt to fast-changing technologies, we will be irrelevant in the future. The industry will find our graduates detached from the current developments.”

Flordeliza Valiente, faculty member at Mapua’s School of EECE, likewise stressed the importance of the academe being in step with technological advancements, adding that Mapua is currently preparing the curriculum for its IoT track.