Ready to level up! Mel Velarde’s NOW Telecom, USTDA seal partnership

NOW Telecom of businessman Mel Velarde has secured the backing of the US government for its planned nationwide 5G rollout in the Philippines.

In a regulatory filing, listed NOW Corp. said affiliate NOW Telecom and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have signed a letter of intent at the 5th Annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Tokyo, Japan.

The signing commemorates the parties’ intent to work together in support of NOW Telecom’s deployment of a nationwide fifth generation broadband network in the Philippines.

NOW Telecom received a funding grant from the USTDA for the development of 5G mobile and fixed wireless networks to “advance critical digital infrastructure projects.” The company did not disclose the amount of the grant.

The technical assistance grant will provide NOW Telecom with the necessary analysis, designs and plans for phased implementation of the project

NOW Telecom intends to conduct 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.

“Likewise, the technical assistance includes examination of available various financing schemes including grant, equity, and debt financing from potential donors, investors and financial institutions and assessment of the level of interest of funding organizations, the amount and terms of potential financing, and any specific financial requirements for the full-scale implementation of the project,” NOW said.

Usapang Bilyonaryo

Usapang Bilyonaryo” is a digital-first, hybrid magazine show hosted and produced by veteran broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon in cooperation with the team. The 30-minute TV cut airs on CNN Philippines at 8 PM every Monday, starting January 16. The full version or producer’s cut of each episode, as well as interview splices, will be posted on’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.


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