Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

PLDT, Smart fire up PH’s first 5G cell sites in Makati and Clark

Leading telecoms company and digital services provider PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have fired up the country’s first 5G cell sites in the Makati Central Business…

Leading telecoms company and digital services provider PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have fired up the country’s first 5G cell sites in the Makati Central Business District and at the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) in Pampanga.

PLDT and Smart on-aired the first 5G cell site at the PLDT headquarters in Makati City with technology partner Huawei, while it also activated the first 5G cell site at the Clark Smart 5G City in the CFZ with technology partner Ericsson. The 5G cell sites are 3GPP standard compliant and are the first to be activated in the Philippines.

 

Among top global operators

“I am happy to announce that PLDT and Smart just fired up the first 5G cell sites in the country, putting the company alongside the first-tier operators in the world to have deployed live 5G base stations. This is part of our commitment to bring the most advanced technologies to the country,” said PLDT and Smart chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

By firing up a 5G cell site in a central business district, PLDT and Smart are looking to pilot 5G solutions catered to densely populated areas.

“With 5G resources now in place, we are looking at developing 5G solutions and applications for central business district areas like Makati, which host a dense population of businesses, people and advanced devices,” said Ernesto R. Alberto, PLDT and Smart Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer.

This is in line with PLDT and Smart’s recently signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Clark Development Corp. to transform the CFZ into the country’s first Smart 5G City.

Powerful platform for solutions

“With 5G cell sites now live and on-air, we are now set to test 5G’s powerful platform to develop solutions such as autonomous vehicles, connected fleets, and smart buildings and factories, and be able to deliver 5G services to our customers soon,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor.

According to Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering, Smart is continuously upgrading its network’s Core and Transport elements, including upgrading to fiber the backhaul connecting the network’s cell sites around the country and deploying 5G-ready equipment in its ongoing nationwide LTE roll-out. In the CFZ, PLDT and Smart are also ramping up the roll-out of LTE in key areas and equipping all of them with 5G facilities in the coming months.

“I would like to congratulate PLDT and Smart for this momentous occasion as they lay the foundation for the network infrastructure, to take it to the next level as it enables the country to fully realize its ambition toward a more digitalized economy. I am very happy to be part of this partnership as we enable 5G capability in Smart network today,” said Ericsson’s Nunzio Mirtillo, Market Area Head for South East Asia, Oceania and India.

According to Arthur Wang, director of Huawei Philippines’ PLDT group account: “We are happy to partner with PLDT and Smart in helping bring 5G to PLDT-Smart. Through this partnership, we hope to continue developing more innovations to deliver digital services to PLDT and Smart customers.”

Powered by PH’s most extensive fibver network

Armed with both fixed and wireless infrastructure powered by the country’s most extensive fiber network now at over 221,000 kilometers, PLDT and Smart are best positioned to deploy 5G in the country.

5G opens up exciting possibilities for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and smart cities for Filipinos, particularly for the transport sector, traffic management, manufacturing, airport and mall operations, logistics and warehousing, retail, customer support, and smart homes, among others.

Apart from ultra-high speeds, the key features of 5G include enhanced mobile broadband services, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications. (Press Release)

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PLDT launches P1-billion data center in Cebu

Built from the ground up to withstand an intensity 8 earthquake, secured with 11 layers of protection, powered with electrical capacity enough for 1,600 households, and completed at a cost…

Built from the ground up to withstand an intensity 8 earthquake, secured with 11 layers of protection, powered with electrical capacity enough for 1,600 households, and completed at a cost of P1 billion, the 2nd Vitro data center in Cebu was launched by PLDT yesterday.

The facility was built with quadruple the capacity of the first one that was built in Cebu in 2012, which is now 96% utilized. That, PLDT officials said, illustrates the increasing demand for and embrace of the utility of data centers by businesses, including local enterprises.

Vitro Data Center Cebu 2 illustrates the “stellar rise of the Vitro network and the way it has revolutionized how enterprises from all over the country do business,” said PLDT and Smart Chief Revenue Officer and EPLDT Group President and CEO Eric Alberto. The Vitro network “is now the largest network in the country with 10 locations covering the entire length and breadth of the archipelago. It is internationally recognized and certified.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 lobby

The lobby at PLDT Vitro Cebu 2.

Accelerate digital transformation

“The addition of a second data center in Cebu ensures that even more businesses can gain access to the benefits of having world-class data management,” Alberto said. “All this is in keeping with the vision that started 18 years ago – to accelerate the digital transformation of the Philippines.”

Today’s business environment is marked by heightened risks, said Vice President and Head of PLDT Enterprise Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba. He said an an important way to help companies manage business risks is to provide them “digital infrastructure that helps them with business resiliency and continuity.”

PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto

SUPPORT COMPANIES. PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto says, “this new state-of-the-art facility is part of the PLDT Group’s nationwide effort to support local organizations and enterprises of all sizes—helping them store, manage and safeguard mission-critical data from cybersecurity threats and physical disasters.”

Alcoseba highlighted key features of the data center launched yesterday – 4 days of uninterrupted full load operations during a power outage and without refuelling, 99.99% service availability, 11 layers of facility security, cyber defense, and a highly resilient configuration in power, cooling, and connectivity.

Stability, reliability, security

“If I were to summarize what Vitro Cebu 2 is all about, it’s about providing business stability, ensuring ultimate reliability, and security of clients. When you talk about security it’s all about peace of mind, knowing that they are in a facility that will allow them to run, regardless of what happens,” Alcoseba said.

PLDT said in a statement that “the second Cebu VITRO Data Center is supported by PLDT’s robust fiber optic network spanning over 187,000 kilometers, enabling the delivery of digital solutions nationwide.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2

PLDT officials after a press conference held to launch the new facility. In photo are (from left) ePLDT Chief Information Security Officer Angel Redoble, ePLDT Group Chief Technology Officer Dave Simon, ePLDT Group SVP and Chief Operating Officer Nerisse Ramos, PLDT Group EVP and Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric R. Alberto, PLDT SVP and Head of PLDT & Smart Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez, and PLDT VP and Head of Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba.

The new facility in Cebu has a capacity of 800 server racks, bringing the nationwide network’s capacity to 9,150 racks, said ePLDT Group SVP and Chief Operating Officer Nerisse Ramos. With that addition, total utilization of the entire network is now at 35%, said Alberto.

This increasing adoption contrasts with the tepid initial response of a few years back, said SVP and Head of PLDT & SMART Enterprise Business Groups Jovy Hernandez.

Vitro Cebu data center

“Six years ago when we launched Vitro Cebu 1, the companies weren’t really going into data centers. Over the past 6 years, a lot of companies, even small and medium enterprises, saw the value – why will I put up my own cooling system? I can never make my own cooling system on my own scale similar to the one here. As more companies now rely on their servers, which traditionally were hosted only in my room at the back of my office, we’re seeing a lot more demand,” Hernandez said.

Alberto said the pace of technology adoption has accelerated. “More and more companies are undergoing their own digital transformation where they have to look to technologies to be able to enable their business to be competitive,” he said. “Looking toward the future, I think it is imperative now that you get connected and you expand your market beyond the typical brick and mortar physical sphere of your legacy market.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 security

SECURITY LAYERS. The security monitoring room in PLDT Vitro Cebu 2. The facility is protected by 11 security layers, including finger-vein scanning features, special CCTV cameras, and 24/7 monitoring and surveillance.

“The rapid pace at which technology changes, particularly in hardware and software, is forcing a lot of business owners to rethink their digital transformation strategies. Are we going to spend CAPEX to be able to own this hardware and software or are we going to turn into an expert partner who has the skill, the reach, plus the attendant and necessary connectivity by which to protect me from high CAPEX outlay into an OPEX?” Alberto said.

Adding to the equation is the “managed service that aptly protects me from cyber security attacks that have become more prevalent, more dynamic, and disruptive,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 Benedict Patrick Alcoseba

PEACE OF MIND. “If I were to summarize what Vitro Cebu 2 is all about, it’s about providing business stability, ensuring ultimate reliability, and security of clients,” said Vice President and Head of PLDT Enterprise Disruptive Business Group Benedict Patrick Alcoseba.

PLDT expertise, scale, network

He said businesses that build such facilities on their own have to contend with the rapid technology advances that quickly render systems outdated.

“So are you gonna take the obsolescence risk? And do you have the capability to be able to provide the necessary cooling, the power, the security, the connectivity, plus the cyber security protection? Do you want to own these elements where you don’t have the scale nor the expertise?” Alberto said.

“These are the challenges that we put to the market and we present ourselves in PLDT Group to be the trustworthy and leading partner when you are ready to look at those issues and you are prepared to take on the world through technology,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2 cooling towers

The cooling towers at the facility.

“Our expertise, our scale, our buying power, our connectivity, our investments in network connectivity and diversity, our purpose-built data centers with security experts and the managed services experts actually are resources that no one particular company – no matter what the size – will be ever able to scale to,” Alberto said.

Hernandez said their customers are “pretty diverse” in terms of size and location. “More and more companies from our Asian neighbors are actually looking at the Philippines. Before when you talked about data centers in Asia, it was only 2 countries — Singapore and Hong Kong. That’s it. But the Philippines is now being looked at even by international companies as a place for them to co-locate.”

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2

COLOR-CODED. Lines in the facility are color coded – blue for primary and yellow for secondary.

No longer just contingency but business strategy

Ramos said that changes in the business environment encourage them to build capacity. She said that they often ask themselves, “are we over-building?”

“But the reality is whenever we have discussions with our clients, in all industries, even government, dati ang usapan, we need a data center for contingency, but right now that’s not the discussion anymore. The discussion is about the need to be hosted because of risk management, because it’s a business strategy. (It’s no longer) simple contingency but part of a business strategy. This kind of discussion is happening in their boardrooms, not anymore at the IT level,” Ramos said.

Alberto said demand for data center services will increase with the changing business environment. “This is the wave of the future – big data, analytics, AI. Artificial Intelligence is machine learning. It’s growing. And machine learning must be fed with continuous data, historical as far back to be more accurate and current,” he said.

PLDT Vitro Cebu 2

SECURITY LAYER. Entry and exit to the facility include going through this security-controlled turnstile.

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Smart to spend P1 billion for nationwide Smart Wifi rollout

PLDT subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) is rapidly widening the footprint of its Smart Wifi service in key transport hubs, government offices, and business establishments across the country. Smart has earmarked…

PLDT subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) is rapidly widening the footprint of its Smart Wifi service in key transport hubs, government offices, and business establishments across the country.

Smart has earmarked close to P1 billion for the rollout, which forms part of PLDT’s P43-billion capital expenditure program for this year alone.

Smart WiFi hotspots

Smart Wifi public hotspots are currently undergoing upgrades in all the four terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City; Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao; Iloilo International Airport; Bacolod-Silay International Airport in Negros Occidental; and Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport in Negros Oriental.

Smart WiFi is also now available for use by waiting passengers at the terminals of major bus companies including Alps, Five Star Bus, Isarog Bus, Jam Liner, Philtranco, and Victory Liner.

Aside from major transport hubs, Smart Wifi has also expanded to cover more public areas, such as city halls, schools, and establishments such as malls, restaurants, and coffee shops, among many others, addressing the growing demand for more public Wifi hotspots in the country.

Improve access, coverage

“Over the past months, we have aggressively broadened the Smart Wifi footprint through our key partnerships with government institutions and business establishments, consequently improving internet access and coverage nationwide,” said Eric R. Alberto, Executive Vice President at PLDT and Smart, and ePLDT President and CEO.

“The Smart Wifi rollout complements our long-standing efforts to give Filipinos a seamless digital experience, while providing businesses and institutions solutions that suit their needs, and a platform to reach out to a wider audience,” he said.

Internet for All

“Smart has built a solid reputation of connecting Filipinos, and Smart Wifi is very much part of our commitment to make ‘Internet for All’ happen through faster, more reliable, and more accessible products and services,” said Kat Luna-Abelarde, FVP and Wireless Consumer Operations Head at Smart.

Beyond providing internet access to as many people as possible, Smart Wifi is also designed as an essential tool for small and medium enterprises and institutions.

“With more people using Wifi provided by establishments they patronize, Wifi connectivity has been proven to contribute to business growth,” said Alberto. “Smart Wifi is designed to do this and more, by equipping SMEs and various organizations with an indispensable tool to engage customers, build loyalty, and gather significant information that will help them understand customer needs.”

With Smart Wifi, users can take advantage of free connectivity for an initial number of minutes, after which the service allows them to conveniently purchase credits from Smart to extend and boost their internet session.

The rapid expansion of Smart Wifi is supported by PLDT’s robust and resilient fixed and wireless networks, backed by the country’s most extensive fiber optic footprint spanning over 100,000 kilometers, and its three-year network expansion program to deliver faster, more reliable, and more affordable internet services to more Filipinos nationwide. (Press Release)

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PLDT, Smart unveil new logos to mark ‘digital pivot’

PLDT and mobile subsidiary Smart Communications unveiled its new logos tonight to highlight a fresh brand identity anchored on its “digital pivot,” a massive shift of the company to data…

PLDT and mobile subsidiary Smart Communications unveiled its new logos tonight to highlight a fresh brand identity anchored on its “digital pivot,” a massive shift of the company to data services.

PLDT and Smart chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Manuel V. Pangilinan led company officials in unveiling the logo in the Makati Shangri-la. The unveiling was streamed live to and marked in several company locations throughout the country.

The new logo also comes after the recent change in the name of the company from the “Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company” to “PLDT Inc.” The company said in a statement that the change in name better represents its “thrust to decisively shift its business to data-driven services.”

PLDT, Smart new logo

UNVEILING. PLDT and Smart chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan (center) lead the unveiling of the companies’ new logos. With Pangilinan are PLDT executive vice president Eric Alberto (2nd from right) and chief strategy officer Winston Damarillo. (Photo: Max Limpag)

“Powerful convergence”

The new logo, the company said, “symbolizes the powerful convergence of PLDT and Smart, combining fixed and wireless technologies to serve individual and enterprise customers.” It is shaped like a triangle to represent its business pillars: “exceptional people, meaningful innovations, and our valuable customers.”

The new logos.

The new logos.

The triangle is also the symbol for the Greek letter Delta for “change.”

“Taken together, these 3 pillars create tremendous energy that will enable our customers to achieve their limitless potential. The triangle’s 3 sides support each other. Thus and inherent strength flows harmoniously among the sides to sustain the structure,” Pangilinan said.

PLDT, Smart “digital pivot”

PLDT and Smart are on a 3-year “digital pivot” to turn its data network into the “country’s most data-capable infrastructure” to underpin a “growing array of compelling digital services.”

PLDT and its subsidiaries like Voyager Innovation and Talas Data Intelligence are developing digital and financial technology services that will offer customers of the group “higher levels of efficiencies and convenience.”

ERASERHEADS. The icons of Philippine rock performed together for the first time in a long while during the unveiling. (Photo: Max Limpag)

ERASERHEADS. The icons of Philippine rock performed together for the first time in a long while during the unveiling. (Photo: Max Limpag)

“Rather than allow ourselves to be disrupted by new technologies, we are disrupting ourselves. We have embarked on a digital pivot to enable us to serve the increasing needs of our people’s digital lifestyle and the country’s growing digital economy,” Pangilinan said.

“We shall lead the digital revolution by embracing the smart life within the organization, pursuing digital innovations and enabling our customers to go digital in their own ways. The biggest winners will be our customers who will have a growing range of choices at their fingertips,” Pangilinan added in a press statement.

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