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Category: Tech

Among Cebu CEOs, technology solutions have yet to make an impact: survey

Despite innovations in the field of finance, e-commerce, consumer services, transport and logistics, only a third of Cebu entrepreneurs believe that technology should be a business priority. Results of the…

Despite innovations in the field of finance, e-commerce, consumer services, transport and logistics, only a third of Cebu entrepreneurs believe that technology should be a business priority.

Results of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey showed that only 35 percent of business leaders look at how technology can help in the company’s overall strategic plan.

Less than half or only 48 percent of the 108 Cebu CEOs surveyed by Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines feel threatened by the speed of technological advancements.

PWC Cebu CEO survey

Factors for successful innovation

The sentiments of Cebu businessmen are in contrast to the 80 percent of 2015 Philippine CEO survey respondents who consider technology breakthroughs like robotics, automated supply chain, enterprise solutions, and digital platforms as crucial to business transformation.

A slightly higher number or 50 percent of Cebu CEOs, which PwC Philippines calls Cebu’s next generation business leaders, see the need to continuously innovate to stay relevant for the long term.

The CEOs cited strong visionary leadership, right culture, willingness to challenge norms and take risks, capacity for creativity, and close collaboration with customers as factors for a successful innovation.

PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey

CEO SURVEY FINDINGS. Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, presents findings of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey. On stage are Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng and PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner Atty. Alexander Cabrera.

Technology as threat, opportunity

Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, said that for these CEOs, technology is both a threat and an opportunity.

“Our next generation business leaders believe the first to adopt will be the first to succeed,” he added.

Atty. Alexander Cabrera, PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner, said during a forum to share survey findings that “building a lasting legacy for the organization and the people they serve while growing the business is fundamental to our CEOs’ success.”

Vision for Cebu

Sought for their thoughts on how they envision a new Cebu, CEOs said focus should be on stronger partnerships between government and the private sector (83 percent), better investment incentives (63 percent), and maintaining and growing the local Cebu brands (49 percent).

PwC also found out that close to half of business owners were not originally from Cebu but moved here because of trade and economic opportunities.

Many of them or 77 percent worked for top companies as junior executives (40 percent), management executives (32 percent) , and board executives (10 percent) before going into business for themselves.

Series of CEO surveys

The survey was conducted by PwC Philippines in partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and marked the first of a series to be done on Cebu business leaders.

Melanie Ng, CCCI president, said the undertaking is “envisioned to benchmark the changes in how our CEOs think and innovate.”

She added that the CEO Survey will provide a glimpse into the entrepreneurial journey of business owners that hopefully will inspire more entrepreneurs in the region. Respondents in the first CEO survey represent about 12 percent of CCCI members.

Other CEO Survey findings

Other survey findings showed that:

  • Majority of CEOs started their business in trading but have diversified to manufacturing, retail and wholesale distribution, and consumer and food beverage.
  • Over the next three years, business owners plan to enter the following industries: real estate and construction, tourism, food manufacturing, and consumer retail and technology.
  • Business leaders consider infrastructure, tourism, and technology as industries that need priority.

Survey presentation

PWC Cebu CEO survey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smart programs shine at Philippine Quill Awards

Programs by Smart Communications to improve the daily lives of Filipinos through mobile technology were recognized recently at the 15th Philippine Quill Awards. Smart received second-runner up honors for Company…

Programs by Smart Communications to improve the daily lives of Filipinos through mobile technology were recognized recently at the 15th Philippine Quill Awards.

Smart received second-runner up honors for Company of the Year, as well as 12 Excellence and 9 Merit Awards. Smart’s winning programs sought to make the mobile internet experience more accessible, affordable, and meaningful to Filipinos; use technology to enhance education, disaster preparedness and response, health services, and customer experience; and engage the workforce better through digital technologies.

The Philippine Quill Awards is organized annually by the International Association of Business Communicators-Philippines to recognize excellence in professional communication.

15th Philippine Quill Awards

Smart received second-runner up honors for Company of the Year, as well as 12 Excellence and 9 Merit Awards in the 15th Philippine Quill Awards.

Smart programs

Winning Excellence Awards were the Batibot educational app which is now available on both Android and iOS platforms, the Disaster Communications Summit, GigaSurf campaign, Launchpad program for the youth, #OwnIt campaign, Smart Bro’s iPad Plan 599 campaign, Smart Pokemon GO, Smart University Gamified Mobile Learning program for employees, Sun Deserve Mo ‘To campaign, TNT Super Panalo Day, Welcome Change campaign, and the use of the internal social media platform for employees called Workplace by Facebook.

Receiving Merit Awards were the AlDub for TNT campaign, All New Smart Bro Plans, Employee Rockstars Program, the disaster preparedness video series for kids called Maging Laging Handa, SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), Smart’s efforts to train Filipinos on Android app development for free, Smart Flagship Store, Sun First Job Problems campaign, and the TechnoCart and School-in-a-Bag programs. (Press release)

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M Lhuillier taps Starmobile to build custom smartphones

Philippine smart devices brand Starmobile has been chosen by leading pawnshop and remittance chain MLhuillier to create a customized Android smartphone for its employees and customers. Powered by Smart Prepaid…

Philippine smart devices brand Starmobile has been chosen by leading pawnshop and remittance chain MLhuillier to create a customized Android smartphone for its employees and customers.

Powered by Smart Prepaid SIMs, the modified Starmobile PLAY Five units are pre-installed with MLhuillier’s MLWallet app, which the Cebu-based company hopes will further empower its workforce to embrace the increasing influence of mobile and digital technologies on the remittance industry.

Starmobile

STARMOBILE. (From left) Smart Department Head/VP, National Key Accounts Group Precy Katigbak, Smart SVP/Head for Wireless and Distribution Alex Caeg, MLhuillier GM for Luzon/NCR Lorenzo Escaño, Starmobile CEO Joey Uy, and Starmobile President Uly Lao, wave “Five” to mark Starmobile’s 5th year of operations

Established in 2011, Starmobile is the mobile devices division of Star Telecom Alliance Resources, Inc. (STAR, Inc.). It is founded by telco industry experts with extensive experience in retail and product development.

Since it first offered Android devices, Starmobile has become the winningest Philippine smartphone brand with a slew of innovation awards from reputable media outfits. The company’s flagship KNIGHT series, has won top awards since 2013—a feat that has not been replicated by any local device company.

Learn more about Starmobile and its line of smartphones and tablets by visiting www.starmobile.com.ph or log on to facebook.com/starmobilephones. (Press Release)

 

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Asus ZenFone AR highlights augmented reality, virtual reality capabilities

From checking out how furniture looks in a room you’re decorating to seeing dinosaurs in the sala as you tell a story to your kids or even doing a virtual…

From checking out how furniture looks in a room you’re decorating to seeing dinosaurs in the sala as you tell a story to your kids or even doing a virtual and yet hyper-realistic tour of a car, augmented reality (AR) plays a central role in the Asus ZenFone AR.

The latest flagship device from Asus was highlighted during a gathering of developers in Mandaue City last Saturday.

Asus ZenFone AR

ASUS ZENFONE AR with VR headset and controller.

The ZenFone AR will be available starting July 17 but the company provided a preview during the Google I/O Extended Cebu 2017 last July 1. Mike Santos, of Asus product and brand marketing – smartphones, said they are working with developers to build AR applications for use on ZenFone AR.

Asus ZenFone AR specs

Santos did a demonstration for journalists and bloggers on the capabilities of the ZenFone AR. He said the phone supports both Google Tango and Daydream. Tango is an AR technology while Daydream offers immersive virtual reality or VR.

Santos said the phone is able to do this because of its top of the line specs: Snapdragon 821 optimized for Tango and up to 8GB of RAM. “That’s like your laptop,” Santos said.

Asus Zenfone AR Cebu

AR DEMO. Mike Santos of Asus product and brand marketing – smartphones demonstrates the augmented reality capability of the ZenFone AR with a virtual and yet realistic tour of a BMW unit.

The ZenFone AR has a TriCam system that lets the phone track your location as you move through space. It also has depth-sensing. This Santos demonstrated through an augmented reality tour of a BMW vehicle. Using the phone, Santos was able to show reporters and bloggers features of the car – from the engine to its interior – as if they were checking an actual vehicle.

Interior design, Harry Potter game

Santos also did a demonstration of how the phone can overlay furniture on a live camera view of a room: allowing a homeowner to preview design options. He also did a demonstration of how AR can be used for shopping of dresses via an augmented reality display of the items.

For its virtual reality capability, Santos did a demonstration through a Harry Potter game that transported the player to the popular book’s universe by donning the phone as a VR headset and using a controller to wield a virtual magic wand.

Asus ZenFone AR Cebu

VIRTUAL REALITY DEMO. Students check out the VR capability of the ZenFone AR with an immersive Harry Potter game.

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#LaLunaSangre’s pilot week scorching hot on Twitter with over 3 million tweets

Filipinos love their TV shows and they show it on social media especially on Twitter. #LaLunaSangre, ABS-CBN’s newest fanta-serye debuted on Monday, 19 June 2017. The episodes from this week…

Filipinos love their TV shows and they show it on social media especially on Twitter. #LaLunaSangre, ABS-CBN’s newest fanta-serye debuted on Monday, 19 June 2017. The episodes from this week erupted on Twitter, hitting more than 3 million Tweets (19-23 June 2017).

#LaLunaSangre is the third chapter of Lobo, a fantasy horror TV series about werewolves and vampires.

It’s also the sequel to Imortal, a popular fantasy show in 2008. Both #Lobo and #Imortal were highly rated and hugely popular shows of ABS-CBN network. La Luna Sangre stars highly acclaimed actors, who are some of the most followed personalities on Twitter in the Philippines: Kathryn Bernardo (@bernardokath), Daniel Padilla (@imdanielpadilla), Angel Locsin (@143redangel), John Lloyd Cruz, and Richard Gutierrez.

Here are the top Tweets of the week related to #LaLunaSangre:

The pilot episode reintroduced Mateo (John Lloyd) and Lia (Angel) as the mother of Malia (portrayed by Kathryn Bernardo). It also presented Richard Gutierrez as Sandrino the Supremo or leader of the vampire rebel group. The episode was embraced by Twitter users despite the main cast not appearing yet – Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. Here are the most talked-about moments on its pilot week.

1. On its pilot episode (19 June), the flashback of Lobo and Imortal was shown to help viewers remember history of the vampires and werewolves of the show. The group of ‘ang mga bes’ composed of the young Malia and her friends was also introduced, with their cuteness and innocence, as well as acting talent captured the hearts of the viewers. In fact, it generated 180,000 Tweets per minute.

2. Last night’s action-packed encounter between the good side and the bad side, and the sacrifice of Mateo and Lia to protect their only child Malia captured the heart of the viewers. On 23 June, from 7-8 pm, with its episode #LaLunaSangreAngPaghaharap, it recorded 100,000 tweets per minute.

3. The prophecy that dictates the fate of Lia and Tristan was revealed. This changed the peaceful and simple life of their family. On this episode last June 20, this destiny was the most talked-about topic on Twitter in the Philippines with more than 80,000 tweets per minute.

Fans of the show proved their love and appreciation to #LaLunaSangre by creating different hashtags everyday as the conversation flows on Twitter. Below are the most-used hashtags of the week.

Well-known personalities also got hooked with #LaLunaSangre.

See more from #LaLunaSangre by following the casts’ official Twitter accounts: Kathryn Bernardo (@bernardokath), Daniel Padilla (@iamdanielpadilla), Angel Locsin (@143redangel).

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Accenture launches rapid innovation center in the Philippines

Systems that detect whether mining vehicles are overloaded or its drivers exhausted to an augmented reality platform to train people how to operate machinery or decorate a house were​ put…

Systems that detect whether mining vehicles are overloaded or its drivers exhausted to an augmented reality platform to train people how to operate machinery or decorate a house were​ put on display as Accenture launched today its rapid innovation center in the Philippines.

Liquid Studio is an “open center where clients co-innovate with Accenture engineers to turn concepts into applications and solutions with speed and agility,” the company said.

While it is a venue where Accenture clients can work on innovation to stay ahead in business, it is also a place where the company’s workers can be trained or work on the latest technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, said Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and technology lead, Accenture in the Philippines.

Accenture Liquid Studio Philippines

ACCENTURE LIQUID STUDIO. Leading the launch of the Accenture Liquid Studio in the Philippines are (from left) Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and technology lead, Accenture in the Philippines; Accenture Technology Services group chief executive Bhaskar Ghosh; and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines.

Technology innovation hub

It will also serve as a hub in the technology ecosystem in the Philippines, she said.

JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, said the Liquid Studio would be a place where the company can co-innovate with universities and schools as well as startups.

The center will help answer the question “how do you use technology to create business value?” said Accenture Technology Services group chief executive Bhaskar Ghosh.

During Thursday’s launch at the facility, which occupies an entire floor with about 2,000 square meters in the Uptown Place 3 at the BGC in Taguig City, Accenture showcased technologies on the connected home, artificial intelligence, internet of things, drones, analytics, robotics, and augmented reality.

Speed up development

The rapid innovation approach with agile methodologies can hasten development time from months to a matter of days or weeks, Palpallatoc said.

Among those they put on demo for journalists who covered the launch was a system that is able to scan faces and identify the person, take note of personal characteristics, and determine the mood: whether he or she is happy. It can be deployed in advertising displays that can tailor the marketing material based on data captured by the system.

That system was built in a matter of days by an Accenture team member. Also built quickly and shown on demo was an internal chatbot platform on which the company can provision systems or work on technical tasks just by messaging.

Data analytics

The company also showcased a mini-racing track with toy cars that used the Oracle cloud to display a dashboard of data analytics gathered by the toy vehicles. It shows how using analytics can help managers determine such things as vehicle fuel efficiency. They also showed a model of a system that can monitor and manage mining vehicles. It can guard against overloading and offer data to increase operational efficiency. It can even determine whether the driver is already exhausted by, among other things, monitoring for micro-sleeps via a camera.

The company also showed a crop monitoring system that used sensors, drones and thermal cameras to monitor the health of plants.

In demonstrating the use of augmented reality, the company showed how using an app, people will be able to focus the camera on a car engine and know its parts and how to do such things as replace the battery. The information is overlaid on the actual display of the vehicle. They also demonstrated how using Microsoft’s Holo Lens, people can preview how furniture, carpets and other accessories will look in the actual room.

Palpallatoc said augmented reality is a great technology to tap in training workers. He said it can provide a safer and cheaper alternative to working on an actual equipment.

Social benefits of technology

The Liquid Studio is part of a network of facilities throughout the world. This makes sure innovation is available to clients in its various facilities globally, said Ghosh.

During the launch, Ghosh highlighted the social benefits of technology by showing how an employee in Manila with hearing and speech impairment was able to work with colleagues in India by tapping AI to facilitate video communication. This, Ghosh said, will enable more people to join the workforce. He said it will enable managers to have a more diverse employee pool, including those who previously would not have been able to work.

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Gadgets for the modern man: Father’s Day gift ideas

With Father’s Day just around the corner, you’re probably mentally listing down gifts for the greatest hero of your life. Here are suggestions to express your love and thanks with…

With Father’s Day just around the corner, you’re probably mentally listing down gifts for the greatest hero of your life. Here are suggestions to express your love and thanks with a gadget gift.

Tech-Savvy Daddy: JUMPU Gadgets and Accessories

If dad already owns a brand-new smartphone or tablet, he would appreciate having multiple mobile accessories that he can keep in his office, car, or at home. Give him the best by selecting JUMPU mobile accessories, guaranteed to deliver the best of Japanese design and manufacturing.

Forget about waiting for one device to fully charge before plugging the next. Save dad’s time with the innovative JUMPU SHUN 4-port and SEHA 5-port chargers, allowing him to power several devices at the same time.

JUMPU

If your dad is the type to leave the house with his phone battery life at 5%, JUMPU’s DUO or KLASIK power banks has got him covered. He would also enjoy the convenience of having multiple MICRO reversible micro-USB cables, LITNIN lightning cables, or DUAL series cables that support both micro-USB and lighting outputs. These would allow him to connect his devices to his laptop for easy file sharing, or to his car charger so he can power them up while keeping his focus on the road.

Practical Papa: Starmobile UNO B208 and B306

For this kind of father, simplicity is the UNO way to go. Starmobile’s latest feature phones UNO B208 and B306 assure to offer the ground necessities of every dad. Focusing on call and text, these Filipino mobile phones promise to be easy-to-use while still offering high-end functionality and reliability.

Personalize the gift based on dad’s preference.

Starmobile Uno

B208 is equipped with FM radio, camera with flash, expandable memory, flashlight, and multimedia support; available in red, blue, or black.

On the other hand, B306 is designed for entertainment suited with an extra loudspeaker, camera, and video recording; available in gray, gold, and black.

Drudging Dude: Starmobile UP Prime and ENGAGE Aura

He’s the busiest dad of all – always on his phone and laptop, but also makes sure to spend time with his family amidst the hectic schedule. Keep him on top of his game with gadgets complementing his fast-paced lifestyle – the UP Prime and ENGAGE Aura from Starmobile.

Crafted to match the everyday lifestyle of professionals, Starmobile’s UP Prime clashes sleek experience of work and entertainment with its split-screen feat which allows dad to seamlessly navigate between texting and playing music. It’s 5-inch 2.5D curved screen perfects the resolution display of watching videos on right side and browsing the internet on the left side through its customizable toggle menus. Dad can also take notes for work by capturing moments with its 8MP rear camera or just bring out his fun personality in a stressful day with wacky selfie on the 5MP front cam. Powered by Android™ 7.0 Nougat, the 700MHz LTE-compatible gadget is the ideal mobile partner for professional dads.

Starmobile Engage

Whether in the office or at home, dad always needs to have a quick access computer to grow his business. The ENGAGE Aura from Starmobile lets him seize that opportunity at an affordable expense. Manufactured with a lightweight design for easy carry, the 1.9GHz Quad-Core laptop powers a heavy performance fitting dad’s everyday line-up of programs.

Equipped with a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mini HDMI, and USB ports of 2.0 and 3.0; the Intel Atom computer makes a convenient working ambiance for dad with effortless connectivity. Its 2MP webcam also enables him immediate reach of his contacts at 720p video capture anytime, anywhere. With Windows 10 as its licensed operating system and long-lasting battery of 9000mAh Li-Ion with 7 hours video time and up to 210 hours standby time, the machine assures reliable job of a pro dad’s needs.

Fun-loving Father: Starcube Digital TV Box

Boost his entertainment experience and let dad enjoy local television shows in crystal clear definition. With over 30 channels to choose from, dad can watch just about as long as he wants without bothering about the monthly cable bill. What’s more, dad can simply tap the recording feature of the digibox in case he needs to work during airtime of his favorite shows.

Starcube

Super Surfer-Father: TP-LINK routers

For web surfing, TP-Link routers are known to be reliable in establishing secure and effective internet connection. With the brand’s collection, faster speeds for more devices are possible without slowing dad’s network. These routers are edged with superior range and coverage, permitting several devices connected nearby and faraway. Its innovative technology supplies solid support for simultaneous HD streaming, online gaming, and other online activities dad may need.

TP Link routers

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Smart named Asia’s top digital services provider

“Welcome Change” also named Best Brand Campaign at Asia Communication Awards For its efforts to boost its network and make relevant digital services accessible to Filipinos, PLDT wireless unit Smart…

“Welcome Change” also named Best Brand Campaign at Asia Communication Awards

For its efforts to boost its network and make relevant digital services accessible to Filipinos, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications was named Digital Service Provider of the Year at the Asia Communication Awards (ACA) ceremony held recently in Singapore.

The ACA recognizes outstanding performance by Asian carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers. It is conducted annually by London-based industry publication Total Telecom.

Best Brand Campaign

Smart’s Welcome Change campaign – which communicated the company’s digital pivot and encouraged Filipinos to empower themselves through mobile innovations – won the Best Brand Campaign recognition.

Janet Watkin, head of the ACA panel of judges and CEO of a customer experience consultancy, said simply making it to the shortlist was already an achievement, given the challenges faced by the telecommunications industry.

“Doing business has become more digital, global, social, and mobile, and the marketplace is vaster and more crowded than it has ever been. Alongside changes in technology and competition are the changing expectations and behavior of customers. As such, making it onto the shortlist for the Asia Communication Awards is indeed a formidable achievement. To win requires that something extra special that is a cut above the rest,” she said.

Smart Asia Communication Awards

Smart, represented by PLDT SG country manager James Melon, receives the first of two awards at the ACA in Singapore.

Digital transformation

“We are honored to receive these awards from a prestigious institution that understands the rapid changes sweeping through the telco industry. This recognition further inspires us to intensify our pursuit for digital transformation and to bring the benefits of the digital life to more Filipinos,” said PLDT and Smart chairman and CEO Manny V. Pangilinan.

Smart has a multi-pronged approach in encouraging Filipinos to welcome the digital change – it continuously improves and expands its network while making available devices, relevant content, and value-packed service offers to its subscribers.

In 2016, Smart and PLDT launched a $1-billion digital transformation program to enable their fixed and mobile networks to support the rising demand for digital services. Smart has committed to progressively deploy LTE services to 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities by end-2018. To do this, the company is combining low-band frequencies for better indoor penetration and wider coverage, with high-band frequencies for additional capacity. These frequencies include those obtained through the acquisition of the telco businesses of San Miguel Corp.

Smart has finished its LTE deployment in Boracay and Metro Davao, while efforts are ongoing in Metro Cebu and Metro Manila. Internal tests show Smart’s LTE service consistently increasing in speeds and registering improved indoor data coverage. Third-party crowd-sourced tests also show that Smart offers the fastest LTE service in the Philippines.

Because not many Filipinos can afford LTE handsets, Smart has partnered with various device manufacturers to introduce affordable LTE devices with network-compatible frequencies.

Welcome Change

To communicate its digital transformation, Smart in mid-2016 unveiled a new logo resembling the Greek letter Delta which means change. Smart also launched the Welcome Change campaign to encourage more Filipinos to discover what the digital life has to offer.

To expand its library of relevant content, the company has partnered with the likes of iflix, Cignal, ABS-CBN’s iWantTV, and Fox.

On top of these efforts, Smart continues to introduce affordable and value-packed products such as GigaSurf50 which offers 1 GB of data plus 300 MB for YouTube and other apps, as well as unlimited SMS to all networks. All this is valid for three days for only P50.

Smart LTE network

Smart is in the middle of a network transformation program which seeks to bring LTE to 95% of the country’s cities and towns by end-2018.

Digital technology for development

Smart has won several awards at the ACA, including Operator of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

Last year, Smart TechnoCart – a mobile digital laboratory donated to public schools to help develop literacy among kindergarten students – won the Social Contribution Award. This is part of Smart’s efforts to bring digital technology to underserved communities to aid their development.

Smart’s donation of digital tools and content, even in remote areas without electricity, enable more Filipinos to be part of the global knowledge economy. Depending on the terrain, the learning packages come in the form of the TechnoCart or a backpack called School-in-a-Bag. These contain devices such as tablets, laptops, projectors, pocket Wi-Fis, and solar chargers.

More importantly, the devices are preloaded with learning tools such as the Batibot mobile application co-developed by Smart. This is the first educational app for kids in the Filipino language that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education. (Press Release) 

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Huawei showcases P10 with portrait photography workshop in Cebu

Beautiful portraits, said fashion and beauty photographer Sara Black, “reveal untold stories.” To improve your portraits, Black offers these tips: use lighting and consider the quality, direction, and color of…

Beautiful portraits, said fashion and beauty photographer Sara Black, “reveal untold stories.”

To improve your portraits, Black offers these tips: use lighting and consider the quality, direction, and color of the light; look for a good facial angle and ask the subject which she or he considers the best; take into account body dynamic, follow composition rules but feel free to break these, connect with your subject, and have your own style.

Black held a short workshop on mobile portrait photography at the Chateau de Busay in Lahug last June 1. The Behind Portrait Photography workshop was held to showcase the superior image quality of the Huawei P10.

Huawei P10, P10 Plus features

Huawei Philippines marketing director Corinne Bacani gave a detailed introduction to the P10 and P10 Plus during the event. Using the phone is like having a “photo studio in your pocket,” she said in her introduction.

“Make every shot a cover shot,” was how Huawei highlighted its camera, which was co-engineered with iconic brand Leica.

Huawei P10 Sarah Black

HUAWEI P10. Photographer Sara Black demonstrates the use of a Huawei P10 to take great portrait photographs.

The front or selfie camera is also a Leica, the first among phones. This allows the selfie camera to capture “2X more light” and “amazing self-portraits, whether day or night.”

“The Huawei P10 even senses groufies and automatically switches to wide-angle shots when more people enter the picture,” the company said.

Leica dual camera

The rear camera, however, is what makes the P10 stand out among flagship phones.

“The new Leica Dual Camera 2.0 uses precise 3D facial detection, dynamic illumination, and natural portrait enhancements to produce stunning artistic portrait shots in Leica image style,” the company said.

The P10 has a Leica Dual Camera 2.0 while the P10 Plus has a Leica Dual Camera 1.0 Pro Edition.

It has an easy option to do photo bokeh, where the subject stands out because the background is rendered blurred or out of focus while taking the shot. The bokeh options can be finely controlled in the P10 while taking the shot.

Trendy colors

Black showcased these as well as other outstanding imaging features of the phone in her talk.

“The most iconic portraits are defined by outstanding lighting and clarity of details. Working as a lifestyle photographer for many years now, I always place a premium on how these two elements are reflected in every shot I make, and the Huawei P10 makes this very convenient. They instantly give dramatic touches to every photo, revealing interesting stories or realities of every subject that are rarely captured even through words,” Black said.

The P10 comes in trendy colors, generated with the help of Pantone, like Dazzling Blue, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, and Greenery.

Huawei P10 Corinne Bacani

PHOTO STUDIO IN YOUR POCKET. Huawei Philippines marketing director Corinne Bacani gives a detailed introduction to the P10 and P10 Plus during the workshop.

Not only does the phone have formidable tech specs, it uses machine learning algorithms to make applications open and run faster, said Bacani.

Bacani added, “I’m glad people are curious to learn more about portrait photography, and with the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus’ arrival in the Philippines, I believe they now have the perfect devices to carry and express that curiosity and enthusiasm with them everywhere.”

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are available at P28,990 and P36,990 via Huawei Experience Stores and retail partners nationwide. It is also available via Globe ThePLAN 1799 for frere. The plan comes with 11GB of data, Unli-All Net Texts and Unli-Calls to Globe & TM, Netflix access for 6 months, Spotify Premium access for 3 months, HOOQ access for 6 months. The Huawei P10 can also be purchased either via any credit card at 0% interest for 6 and 12 months or Home Credit at 0% installment for 9 months without the need for a credit card.

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Smart mobile data speeds take lead in PH: JP Morgan

‘Significant momentum’ seen for Smart LTE, 3G speeds, according to JP Morgan PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications posted the highest average download speeds for both 3G and LTE, amid steadily…

‘Significant momentum’ seen for Smart LTE, 3G speeds, according to JP Morgan

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications posted the highest average download speeds for both 3G and LTE, amid steadily improving scores through the months, the latest JP Morgan study showed.

JP Morgan’s Asia Network Quality study, which cited crowd-sourced data gathered by wireless coverage research firm OpenSignal, showed Smart LTE service leading nationwide in terms of speed, with average download speeds of 11.64 Mbps on the country level.

The May 2017 report also showed Smart leading across areas in terms of LTE service, with average download speeds of 12.52 Mbps in Metro Manila, 11.96 Mbps in the Visayas and 9.44 Mbps in South Luzon.

Significant momentum

“PLDT’s Smart has significant momentum across all circles measured. This likely implies a higher likelihood of market share gains going forward, with potentially better pricing power,” said JP Morgan in its study, which covers the months of February to April.

Smart also led in terms of 3G speeds nationwide, posting 2.29 Mbps average download speeds on a country level. Across areas, average download speeds on Smart’s 3G service were at 3.41 Mbps in Metro Manila, 1.74 Mbps in the Visayas, and 1.82 Mbps in South Luzon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but these test results show that our network improvement program is making progress. They are a testament to Smart’s commitment to continuously contribute to improving overall speeds in the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.

Re-equipping cell sites

Smart is re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage. It is also deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle more calls, texts, and ever-increasing mobile data traffic.

PLDT and Smart have committed to make LTE progressively available to 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.

“We have ongoing network improvements in Metro Manila, and we look forward to providing our subscribers there with better indoor LTE and 3G data signal, as well as better indoor 3G and 2G voice signal once these activities are done,” he said.

“With these improvements, our subscribers can live their digital lifestyles to the fullest, using a combination of LTE-ready devices, Smart LTE SIMs and Smart’s newest and fastest network, and be there like never before,” Tamayo added.

“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we are upgrading our network facilities. We assure you that we are taking steps to minimize the impact of these activities on our subscribers. In the end, our commitment to all our subscribers is that they will enjoy progressively better mobile data services in the next few months, particularly for those using LTE devices,” he said.

Average LTE speeds

Recent internal tests have shown improvements in speed in areas involved in the ongoing network rollout. Average LTE download speeds in northern Metro Manila, for example, are at 22.2 Mbps, while speeds are at 14.5 Mbps on average using Smart’s LTE service in southern Metro Manila. In Cebu, on the other hand, average download speeds on Smart’s LTE service are at 20.7 Mbps.

For these network improvement efforts, Smart was also recently named Digital Service Provider of the Year at the Asia Communication Awards, which recognizes outstanding performance by Asian carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers.

This comprehensive network modernization and expansion program is at the core of the PLDT group’s digital pivot. Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of P42.8 billion for 2016, which included the utilization of the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets. PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan has announced a total capital expenditure of P46 billion this year. (Press Release)

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10 provincial schools get tech packages from Smart to boost education

Ten public schools in Lanao del Norte, La Union, Benguet, Capiz, and Leyte are getting digital technology packages that can help enhance the education of their kindergarten students. Smart Communications…

Ten public schools in Lanao del Norte, La Union, Benguet, Capiz, and Leyte are getting digital technology packages that can help enhance the education of their kindergarten students.

Smart Communications is donating units of the Smart TechnoCart, a 2×2 ft mobile laboratory that contains 20 tablets for students, as well as a laptop, projector, and mobile Wi-Fi for the teacher. Each tablet is preloaded with Batibot, the first mobile application in Filipino that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

Training

Teachers of the recipient-schools recently received training on tablet basics, as well as on child and curriculum development provided by the Community of Learners Foundation (COLF).

In the photo are (from left) Milwida Guevara of program partner Synergeia Foundation; Mayor Ignacio Rivera of Tuba, Benguet; Mayor Mildred Joy Que of Dulag, Leyte; Feny de los Angeles of COLF; and Smart community partnerships head Darwin Flores.

Since the program was launched in June 2015, Smart and sponsors have donated TechnoCarts to 40 public schools in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These schools serve about 10,000 kindergarten students. Individuals and organizations wanting to help spread the benefits of digital learning to more public schools may email TechnoCart@smart.com.ph for more information. (Press release)

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Smart connects Filipinos worldwide through partnership with Orange

PLDT and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc. now make international calls more accessible to overseas Filipinos who want to get in touch with their families in the Philippines thanks…

PLDT and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc. now make international calls more accessible to overseas Filipinos who want to get in touch with their families in the Philippines thanks to a partnership entered with French telecommunications giant Orange.

Through Libon, an app developed by Orange, overseas Filipinos can use their smartphones to make high-quality phone calls to their loved ones on their Smart and Sun mobile numbers or through their PLDT landlines, at affordable rates.

This new service is expected to benefit more than 10 million Filipinos abroad, most of whom are in the US and in Middle Eastern countries.

“This partnership is a testament to our commitment of providing Filipinos overseas with more solutions to connect to the country’s largest subscriber base. With this, they can be assured of quality voice connections, which allow them to constantly communicate with their loved ones on Smart, Sun, TNT and PLDT with Libon packages starting at USD1.99,” said Kat Luna-Abelarde, Head of the International & Carrier Business.

From left: Julien Hodara (SVP – Strategy and International Business, Libon – Orange), Katrina L. Abelarde (FVP and Group Head – International and Carrier Business), Pierre-Louis De Guillebon (Managing Director – Orange International Carriers) and Evarcito Z. Ocampo (General Manager – PLDT US)

“We assure our customers that they will be able to call their families back here in the Philippines with the best quality at the best price,” said Julien Hodara, Project Director for Strategy and International Business at Orange.

Under the PLDT, Smart and Sun partnership with the Libon App, the users can choose from four special packages: the $1.99 package which gives 30 minutes of calls to PLDT, Smart and Sun; the $4.99 package with 120 minutes; the $9.99 package with 300 minutes; and the 14.99 package with 600 minutes.

“We continue to look for the best ways to serve our fixed and mobile subscribers, both here and abroad,” said Eric R. Alberto, PLDT Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer.  “As the market evolves so does the PLDT Group, we are able to offer our subscribers the best of both worlds – the affordability of OTT voice services using smart devices, and the unrivaled voice quality and reach of our nationwidest fixed and wireless networks.” (Press release)

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Change the way you watch TV with new streaming devices for your home

Globe At Home’s portfolio of streaming devices now include the Google Chromecast, Apple TV and the latest AndroidTV. Exclusively available for Globe at Home customers, the new AndroidTV lets customers…

Globe At Home’s portfolio of streaming devices now include the Google Chromecast, Apple TV and the latest AndroidTV.

Exclusively available for Globe at Home customers, the new AndroidTV lets customers enjoy their favorite content on a bigger screen, right in the comfort of their homes. It can be bundled with Globe At Home plans 1299 and up, for only an additional P200 per month for 24 months. This comes with six months access to Netflix, HOOQ and NBA League Pass. The AndroidTV is also sold separately in Globe Stores.

Globe video streaming

Apart from watching movies and TV shows, customers can also play games, listen to music, and surf the web. The Android TV can also make recommendations to customers on what to enjoy based on their past activities.

For more information on Globe At Home, call the hotline at 730-1010, visit any Globe store or at https://shop.globe.com.ph/streaming-device. To check the availability of Globe At Home in your area just visit https://checkavailability.globe.com.ph/. (Press release)

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Smart deploys digital tech to improve delivery of public health services

Smart Communications is harnessing technology to help improve the productivity and efficiency of healthcare providers assigned in rural health units (RHUs). Smart has been actively deploying its electronic medical record…

Smart Communications is harnessing technology to help improve the productivity and efficiency of healthcare providers assigned in rural health units (RHUs).

Smart has been actively deploying its electronic medical record platform named SHINE OS+ or the Secured Health Innovation Network Exchange (Open Source) in RHUs mostly in the Visayas where many Filipinos don’t have access to quality healthcare.

Raise productivity, efficiency

The digitization of patient records using SHINE has helped raise the productivity and efficiency of 35 local health facilities since RHU personnel spend less time looking for the records of patients coming in for a consult. This also makes it easier for the RHU to refer patients seeking more intensive treatment to tertiary hospitals elsewhere in the province.

Since 2015, Smart’s SHINE OS+ has been able to digitize close to 177,700 patient records from 25 RHUs covering 23 municipalities in Cebu; four RHUs from Iloilo; three from Rizal in Metro Manila; and one each for Bohol, Kalibo, and Masbate.

SHINE OS+ Samboan

SHINE TRAINING. Members of the Samboan rural health units undergo a training on how to use the electronic medical record platform SHINE OS+.

With the validation of SHINE OS+ by the Philippine Health Information Exchange, patient records in the 35 RHUs will now be automatically transmitted to the eRecords of the Philippine Health Corp. or PhilHealth. This allows for faster processing of incentives for RHU personnel in exchange for services rendered as provided for by the Primary Care Benefit Package of Philhealth. Once claims are released, the municipal health officer can utilize the funds for RHU enhancement, while the remaining amount will be shared among the health workers as extra payment for services rendered.

Prompt, efficient delivery of healthcare

“We have here a situation where everyone is happy because of SHINE OS+–the patients for prompt and efficient delivery of healthcare services; the government for the improved delivery of healthcare; PhilHealth for the digitization of patient records; and local health personnel for additional income earned from rendering services to the patients,” said Atty. Maria C. Jane Paredes, head of Public Affairs, VisMin, at Smart.

“Smart enables the provision of quality healthcare to more Filipinos, particularly those in underserved areas. We have been working with like-minded institutions like Ateneo to make technology work for development, in this case, making a responsive and quality healthcare a reality for more Filipinos,” said Ramon R. Isberto, head of Public Affairs at Smart.

The Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center, which developed the SHINE OS+ also developed SHINE OS+ Mobile to make the platform and its functionalities accessible to health professionals anytime, anywhere; and MySHINE, which was designed as a companion app for patients whose healthcare records are stored in the network.

SHINE OS+ runs on an open source platform, allowing developers to design modules and plugins to customize it according to the needs of beneficiary communities. (Press release)

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AI to empower workers but employees need to enhance skills to meet new challenges: Accenture

Tapping artificial intelligence or AI frees up employees from repetitive tasks to focus on higher value work, officials of Accenture said. “The intent is to amplify, enable, and empower people…

Tapping artificial intelligence or AI frees up employees from repetitive tasks to focus on higher value work, officials of Accenture said.

“The intent is to amplify, enable, and empower people to do more,” said JP Palpallatoc, Accenture managing director and digital lead in the Philippines. “That’s the intent of AI. If we are able to use it properly, we can achieve that.”

Palpallatoc said the tasks that AI can best replace are what the industry dub as the 3 Ds. “Dirty, dull, and dangerous jobs. those are things that are ripe to be replaced by AI,” Palpallatoc said in an interview during the recent Transformation Summit in Cebu.

Accenture Cebu Transformation Summit

AI IS THE NEW UI. Palpallatoc, Accenture managing director and digital lead in the Philippines, discusses key technology trends during the Transformation Summit in Cebu.

Ride the tech wave

“Would it have a negative impact? In our experience in Accenture, we have been able to ride the wave rather than be sunk by it by actively multi-skilling our people,” said Accenture managing director Arvin Yason.

Palpallatoc and Yason gave talks during the Transformation Summit held at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. Palpallatoc talked about key technology trends uncovered in a global survey of business and information technology executives by Accenture.

Among the key trends spotted in the study is that of AI being the new user interface or UI.

“AI is becoming more mature. It is simplifying and making all interactions smarter. In the future, the AI will become a spokesperson for a company or the brand,” said Palpallatoc.

Accenture Cebu Transformation Summit

AI CAPABILITIES. Accenture managing director Arvin Yason talks about the capabilities of AI and such fields as video analytics.

Computer vision

Yason expanded on AI and discussed what he described as “one of the more under-appreciated technologies in the past year,” which is computer vision.

“Everything from being able to remember where you left your phone or being able to track who the people are on the production floor. These will be realized over the next few years because of the rapidly evolving computer vision technologies,” he said. During his talk, he showed how security cameras paired with AI can recognize fights and other security issues as well as traffic incidents.

Yason said there are many things AI can do on top of serving as virtual assistants. “Our financial clients use AI to do fraud detection. Whether they are cheating on an insurance form or claim or something else. We also use AI in conjunction with medical specialists to either provide better diagnosis or to even augment certain procedures.”

JP Palpallatoc Arvin Yason Accenture

AI AND KEY TRENDS. Accenture managing directors Arvin Yason (left) and JP Palpallatoc discuss AI and technology trends in a press conference held on the sidelines of the Transformation Summit in Cebu.

More jobs but higher skills needed

When asked whether AI adoption will have a negative impact on employment, Palpallatoc said there is likely to be, instead, a “net addition” in the number of jobs in the country.

“There is a reduction from the low skill but there is also an increase in the mid and the high. And I think the important thing here is for us to get that particular opportunity. We need to re-skill, multi-skill and up-skill our people so that we are able to do the high-level skilled work,” he said.

“In Accenture, we have been actively cross training and upskilling our people from the older technologies and the more manual processes to the relevant technologies that will be used to build AI and other new IT skills,” Yason said.

To those who fear AI, Palpallatoc said, “The power is with us. For the AI to act, they need to be trained, they need to be taught, they need to be provided data, they need to be guided as well.”

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Cebu City gets P9.6 billion monthly from IT/BPM; P20 billion monthly by 2019

The IT and BPM industry brings in P9.6 billion in new money to Cebu City every month. By the end of 2019, that figure will balloon to P20 billion monthly,…

The IT and BPM industry brings in P9.6 billion in new money to Cebu City every month. By the end of 2019, that figure will balloon to P20 billion monthly, even by low estimates, said Cebu City consultant Joel Mari Yu.

Yu gave an overview of IT/BPM in Cebu City in yesterday’s Transformation Summit at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. Yu led the now defunct Cebu Investment Promotions Center, which has been credited with bringing in investments to the city.

“The numbers I’m showing you are modest assumptions based on first class data gathered from primary sources,” Yu prefaced his presentation.

Joel Mari Yu IT/BPM Cebu City

WHAT WE NEED TO DO. By dealing with aggravating circumstances for investors in Cebu, the target of 200,000 employees in the IT/BPM industry by 2019 can be easily achieved, said Cebu City consultant Joel Mari Yu.

Direct, indirect employment

The average salary of an IT employee in Cebu City is P30,000 a month, growing at 10% a year. From just 1 company in 2004, there are now 456 IT/BPM companies in Cebu City.

Assuming a 1:1 ratio between salaries and wages and operating expense, P7.6 billion in new money flows into Cebu monthly, Yu said. This is based on an employee count of 130,260 in 2016. The figure is also limited to Cebu City and does not take into account locations like Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City.

With a low estimate of P10,000 monthly rate for indirect employment, Cebu City gets P2 billion from indirect employment.

“Combine the 2, it’s 9.6 billion that flows into Cebu every month. Minimum. That’s on the assumption of 130,000 workers. There could be much more,” he said.

By targeting 200,000 employees in 2019, Cebu City will be getting P20 billion monthly.

Cebu IT/BPM growth

New money coming in

“This is new money coming in monthly,” Yu said. “When Shoemart makes money, they sell to Juan to pay Pedro. It’s recirculated money. But when you bring in a foreign investor, the money is remitted from abroad every month. Every single month they remit money to pay for their expenses, for their operations in this country.”

Today, Yu said, Cebu City gets P464 million in monthly rental income from IT/BPM companies. By 2019, that will grow to at least P700 million monthly.

Hitting the target of 200,000 IT/BPM employees in Cebu City by end of 2019 is achievable, Yu said. It will not even entail promotions and marketing.

Fix aggravating circumstances

“It is a matter of Cebu City dealing with aggravating circumstances facing the IT/BPM industry,” Yu said.

These key problems are transportation and traffic, security and safety, housing, and the need for a one-stop shop for processing employment papers. By dealing with these problems, Cebu City will get even more investments and locators.

“I do not like the former mayor because he was one of the bigger reasons why the CIPC closed shop,” Yu said to end his talk. “But he said something and I would like to end by quoting him. Can we do this? Together we can make it happen.”

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CEDFIT expands mandate, transforms into Cebu IT/BPM industry association

Seeing the need for an organization that will look after the interest of the information technology and business process management sector in Cebu, the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information…

Seeing the need for an organization that will look after the interest of the information technology and business process management sector in Cebu, the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (CEDFIT) has transformed itself into the Cebu IT/BPM Organization (CIB.O).

CIB.O is a full industry association that will look after the interest of the sector, expanding from CEDFIT’s role of bridging the talent gap between industry and academe and taking on more roles like promotions and expanding collaboration.

CEDFIT was organized after the Cebu is IT Summit in 2001, when the business community and government agreed to work together to make Cebu a preferred IT destination. At that time, the biggest concern raised by industry was the gap in skills of graduates produced by schools in Cebu.

CEDFIT CIB.O

TRANSFORMATION SUMMIT. Officials raise a toast to mark the transformation of CEDFIT into the Cebu IT/BPM Organization or CIB.O during the Transformation Summit in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. Leading the ceremony is CIB.O chairman Francis Monera.

Bridge academe-industry gap

CEDFIT has been able to partly bridge that gap with its industry programs, officials said. Cebu has a better employability grade, even compared with the National Capital Region. Other places in the country have an employability rate of 6% to 7%. Graduates in Cebu, on the other hand, have a 28% to 29% employability rating.

“CIB.O’s vision is to make Cebu as the preferred IT/BPM location for higher value IT and IT-enabled services,” said CIB.O chairman Francis Monera. “The organization’s mission is to develop and promote the strengths of Cebu and sustain the growth of its IT/BPM industry through driving collaboration, innovation, and excellence.”

Monera said CEDFIT had a lot of successful programs and worked on initiatives apart from talent development but “these were all ad hoc.” CIB.O will formalize and expand that, he said in a press conference held at the sidelines of the Transformation Summit at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Higher value IT services

CIB.O will complement the local industry by continuing to provide human resource development and taking on marketing and infrastructure promotion to make Cebu as preferred IT destination for higher value services. CIB.O has 128 members that comprise IT/BPM companies, academe, support groups, government agencies, and civil organizations.

Digital Transformation Summit chairman Jun Sa-a said a key initial advocacy of CIB.O would be security and data privacy, especially with the Data Privacy Law going into full effect this year.

Sustain industry growth

“It is high time that Cebu has a fulltime industry association after growing so big. We can now become more focused on the needs of our main IT/BPM players and help sustain the industry’s growth,” Sa-a said.

Monera said IT is the main driver behind Cebu’s robust growth. This can be seen with the growth from 2009 to 2014 exceeding the growth in the 20-year period before that.

Cebu now has 300 IT/BPM companies with 140,000 employees. CIB.O said Cebu is “aiming to capture higher value services such IT outsourcing, health information management, shared services, engineering services, banking and financial services, software development, research and development, among others.”

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Smart holds festival, rekindles love for local stories

Centuries ago, a girl named Maria lived in what is now known as Conalum, a mountainous area in the town of Argao which is about two hours away from Cebu…

Centuries ago, a girl named Maria lived in what is now known as Conalum, a mountainous area in the town of Argao which is about two hours away from Cebu City. People called her Maria Cacao, as she owned a cacao plantation from which they sourced the beans they used to create tablea. To this day, residents of Argao produce these chocolate tablets.

Town Mayor Stanley Caminero shared this legend with a rapt audience of children and adults at the culmination of the three-day “Istorya Mo, Nagpaabot Ako: Kwentuhang Batibot Caravan and Story Festival.” Organized by Smart Communications in cooperation with the local government, the caravan sought to rekindle people’s love for storytelling, especially the sharing of local tales.

Preservation of local heritage, culture

Caminero said the story of Maria Cacao could not be found in any book; it is a story that has been orally passed by Argao locals from generation to generation.

“If you think about it, the oldest heritage is stories,” he said, adding that storytelling is important not just for the preservation of local heritage and culture, but for the education of children as well.

Argao Storytelling

Argao Mayor Stanley Caminero shares the Legend of Maria Cacao with school children.

Aside from Caminero, the festival’s featured storytellers included Rey Bufi of The Storytelling Project, Argao college students and elementary pupils, a parent, a teacher, and Sun.Star Superbalita editors and writers.

The festival also included trainings on storytelling and story writing for Education students of the Cebu Technological University (CTU)-Argao campus.

Make lessons fun

CTU student Chariss Ampoon said that from the trainings given by Bufi and children’s book writer Michael Jude Tumamac, she picked up tips on how to manage a classroom and give life to tales.

Maria Elena Bajo, who teaches second grade in Argao’s Binlod Elementary School, said stories make lessons fun, and can be integrated in a lot of subjects, even Math.

Aside from holding storytelling festivals, Smart also promotes the Batibot app as a way to encourage love for stories among children. Created by Smart in partnership with the Community of Learners Foundation and developer OrangeFix, the app has a feature called “Kuwentong Batibot.”

The Batibot app is the first educational app in the Filipino language that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education. It can be downloaded for free on Android devices.

The Batibot app promotes love for storytelling among kids through its Kuwentong Batibot feature.

Modern tools

Through games in the app, such as the Batibot classic “Alin ang Naiba?”, children in their formative years can also learn basic concepts like matching, sorting, and grouping. They are shown how to identify shapes, colors, numbers, the alphabet, and letter sounds. The children can also practice tracing letters with the proper strokes.

Teacher Mira Vissa L. Padron of Argao Central Elementary School said the use of 21st century tools to promote the culture of storytelling would be a big help to them in the classroom. (Press Release)

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Smart LTE is fastest in the Philippines: J.P.Morgan study

Smart Communications is delivering the fastest LTE service in the country, with average download speeds steadily improving through the months, a J.P.Morgan study showed. In an April 2017 report based…

Smart Communications is delivering the fastest LTE service in the country, with average download speeds steadily improving through the months, a J.P.Morgan study showed.

In an April 2017 report based on the actual mobile experience of OpenSignal app users, J.P.Morgan said Smart “leads in overall LTE download speeds and at regional levels.” The OpenSignal app enables mobile data users to run their own speed tests.

At the country level, Smart recorded an average LTE download speed of 10.91 Mbps from December 2016 to February 2017. It averaged 11.76 Mbps in Metro Manila, 8.56 Mbps in South Luzon, and 10.42 Mbps in the Visayas in the same period.

Smart LTE

BETTER COVERAGE. Smart is re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage. It is also deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle mobile data traffic.

Average LTE speeds improved

Aside from beating competition in the LTE arena, Smart has also improved its average LTE speeds in all areas covered by the study. Its latest figures are its highest in the last eight testing periods of OpenSignal.

Moreover, Smart led in terms of average 3G download speeds at the country level (2.22 Mbps) and in Metro Manila (3.25 Mbps). These 3G figures are also Smart’s highest in the last eight testing periods.

“We are happy to know that our subscribers are increasingly enjoying our newest and fastest LTE network. We have made intensive capital outlay to accelerate the deployment of LTE sites because LTE significantly boosts the speed, quality, and reliability of our mobile data service,” said PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn.

Better indoor coverage

Smart is re-equipping its cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz and 850 MHz to provide better indoor coverage. It is also deploying high-frequency bands like 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz to increase the cell sites’ capacity to handle mobile data traffic.

PLDT and Smart have committed to make LTE progressively available to 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities by the end of 2018.

“While the J.P.Morgan study did not include Mindanao, our subscribers are already experiencing improved LTE service there, particularly in Metro Davao where we have completed our network overhaul program,” Horn said.

Superior digital experience

“Soon, more Filipinos from all over the country will enjoy a digital experience like never before,” said PLDT-Smart chief revenue officer Eric Alberto. “Our network dominance and reliability will enable us to deliver a superior digital experience to Filipinos, whose appetite for relevant digital content is constantly growing.”

Horn said that through its LTE rollout, Smart was also laying the foundation for further service improvements, such as LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers.

He added that while Smart was boosting its LTE services, it continued to fortify its 3G network to better serve the majority of its smartphone-owning subscribers, who are using 3G handsets. (Press Release)

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Smart makes 1st Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call in the Philippines

Smart Communications, together with its technology partner Ericsson, recently made the Philippines’ first successful mobile call using Voice over Long-Term Evolution (LTE), or VoLTE. “We are excited to be the…

Smart Communications, together with its technology partner Ericsson, recently made the Philippines’ first successful mobile call using Voice over Long-Term Evolution (LTE), or VoLTE.

“We are excited to be the first network in the country to successfully use VoLTE, because this technology holds so much promise in terms of improving the quality of mobile service available to our customers. Voice will always be an important mobile application, and VoLTE is the platform of the future which will provide the best customer experience when it comes to voice communications,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart.

Sean Gowran, Head of Ericsson Philippines and Pacific Islands, said, “This partnership with Smart in making the first live VoLTE capability available in the Philippines helps reinforce Smart’s technology leadership in mobile communications and its commitment to bring the best customer experience to its subscribers in the country. With the introduction of VoLTE, Smart will ensure and further enhance voice quality, while also enabling a broader range of communication capabilities.”

VoLTE uses LTE, also known as 4G, to transmit voice calls, unlike the current practice where calls go through 2G or 3G mobile networks. As such, VoLTE requires strong and ubiquitous LTE coverage.

“We have completed a number of key improvement projects in the last few months, and these have turned our network into a strong platform for offering advanced, purely digital services, such as VoLTE,” said Horn.

Built for the future

Since LTE — a technology built primarily for data — is very efficient in carrying data traffic, a voice call transmitted over LTE is of crystal clear quality, with almost no background noise. Devices with built-in VoLTE capability will natively support it, and will not require a separate, over-the-top (OTT) application.

It also guarantees direct, global reach similar to the phone services of today, unlike OTTs that require both caller and receiver to be on the same app. Call set-up time, or the amount of time it takes for one mobile phone to connect to another through a voice call, is also drastically reduced with VoLTE.

Once deployed by Smart in its network, VoLTE will allow users with VoLTE-capable devices to stay on the 4G/LTE network even when making or receiving a call. This is unlike how, at present, LTE devices automatically shift to 3G or 2G when these make a voice call. This means that a user can simultaneously be in a voice call, while actively using high-speed data for other applications.

Currently offered by only a handful of leading operators in the world, VoLTE will also allow Smart subscribers to make video calls without tapping a third-party, OTT app. In the same trials, Smart and Ericsson successfully tested video over LTE, using the built-in calling functionality of a smartphone.

IMPROVING COVERAGE. Smart is in the middle of a three-year program to provide LTE coverage in 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities.

Rapid LTE deployment

“It will take a little time for VoLTE to be fully deployed, largely because capable handsets are either still too expensive, or manufacturers have yet to activate this feature in their existing advanced models. But the excellent results of these tests provide another reason for us to pursue our aggressive LTE roll-out across the Philippines, since ubiquitous LTE coverage is a clear pre-requisite to VoLTE adoption,” added Horn.

Smart is in the middle of a three-year program to provide LTE coverage in 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities. This rapid deployment will make Smart’s LTE service available to 97% of the country’s population, or to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

According to Horn, LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable, and reliable internet services to as many customers as possible, as more LTE devices becomes available in the market. LTE also provides the platform that will easily allow Smart users to step up to even more advanced technologies like LTE Advanced (LTE-A).

Smart was also the first operator to offer LTE-A in the Philippines last year, when it demonstrated the capability of high-speed mobile internet through Carrier Aggregation in Boracay. Now available in urban areas like Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and in greater Metro Manila, Smart’s LTE-A delivers peak speeds of over 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

“We are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of our customers, and to deliver our services in the best possible quality. Our initiatives in LTE-A, in VoLTE, and eventually in 5G, will allow us to do just that,” said Horn. (Press Release)

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