Smart leads in Opensignal’s independent analysis of PH mobile experience

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) delivers the best video experience across the Philippines and in 18 regions and provinces, based on the latest independent report from mobile analytics company Opensignal.

The Philippines Mobile Network Experience Report September 2019, which covered the period May 1 to July 29, 2019 and independently analyzed over 533 million measurements from over 190,000 devices, found that Smart won in four categories—Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience—and scored a draw in 4G Availability.

Smart’s Video Experience score was 47.6, well ahead of competition’s score of 30.4.

Smart won 4 awards in the latest Opensignal report. PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan received the awards from Opensignal executives Andy Burns and Rob Lerner. Also present during the ceremonies were Smart President Al S. Panlilio and PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn.

“Smart’s Video Experience score of 47.6 out of 100 places it comfortably in our Fair ranking bracket (40-55), which means its users may be able to watch videos with reasonable load times and minimal stalling at low resolutions,” Peter Boyland, Opensignal senior analyst, wrote. “Globe’s score of 30.4, however, is well into Poor ranking (0-40) territory, meaning its users will struggle to get anything close to an acceptable Video Experience, even at the lowest resolutions.”

In terms of overall Download Speed Experience, which factors in both 3G and 4G download speeds along with the availability of each technology, Smart posted 9.4 Mbps, ahead of Globe’s 6.5 Mbps. In terms of 4G Download Speed alone, Smart scored 12.7 Mbps, compared to the competition’s 8.3 Mbps.

In terms of overall Upload Speed Experience, Smart posted 3.3 Mbps, ahead of the competition’s 1.7 Mbps.

In terms of Latency Experience, which is measured in milliseconds and refers to the delay users experience as data makes a round trip through the network, Smart also scored better at 61.9ms, compared to competition’s 64.2ms. When measuring Latency Experience, a lower number is better.

Regional analysis

The latest Opensignal report also includes data from 19 regions and provinces across the Philippines – Aklan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cavite, Cebu, Davao del Sur, Iloilo, Laguna, Metro Manila, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, South Cotabato and Tarlac.

Smart dominated Video Experience in 18 provinces, leading by as much as 29.4 points and 21.4 points in Nueva Ecija and Metro Manila, respectively.

In terms of Download Speed Experience, Smart was also ahead in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Batangas, Quezon, Cebu, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental and South Cotabato, while in terms of Upload Speed Experience, Smart also led in 18 provinces.

In terms of Latency Experience, both operators scored a draw in most areas, with Smart leading in Metro Manila and Quezon province.

“These results are a testament to Smart’s commitment to continuously improve and expand our network across the country in order to support our customers’ growing appetite for mobile data,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.

Smart won in 4 categories – Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience.

Smart won in 4 categories – Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience.

Network transformation

Amid Smart’s Video Every Day and Giga Gaming offers, increasing data usage for video and games, alongside robust subscriber growth and increasing adoption of LTE SIMs and smartphones, have boosted PLDT’s consumer wireless business revenues for the first half of 2019, which grew 20% year-on-year to P34.4 billion.

Powering these services is PLDT and Smart’s sustained fixed and mobile network roll out and modernization. PLDT’s total fiber infrastructure spanning over 283,000 kilometers at the end of June also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to its more than 19,000 LTE base stations.

PLDT has set aside a historic-high capital expenditure program in 2019 amounting to P78.4 billion, to further enhance the reach and capacity of its fiber-powered fixed line broadband network and LTE and 3G mobile networks, as well as modernize its IT support systems.


PLDT, Smart retailers win big at Ka-Partner Rewards 2019

Five brand-new millionaires, and more than 100 winners of motorcycles, mobile gadgets, load wallets, grocery items, and other premium items—these are the exciting highlights of this year’s Ka-Partner Rewards program of PLDT and wireless unit Smart Communications.

The program’s latest winners of P1 million in cash and livelihood packages are two housewives and sari-sari store owners from Leyte and Davao. The two winners join three other new Ka-Partner millionaires, bringing the total number of this year’s retailer-millionaires to five. The Ka-Partner program, which started in 2015, now has a total of 19 retailer-millionaires.

The winner from Leyte has a son who just graduated from college, and a husband who works as a taxi driver in Manila. “I sell load to add to my husband’s income and help pay for my son’s schooling,” she said. The couple hope that their son will soon find a decent job and get married.

Actor Jameson Blake serenades the retailers during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention held at SMX Davao.

Actor Jameson Blake serenades the retailers during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention held at SMX Davao.

Load as necessity

The retailer from Davao, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of having mobile load at all times. “I think load has become one of life’s necessities, like rice, sugar, cooking oil. It’s important because it allows us to communicate with others, especially during emergencies,” she said.

They encouraged fellow load retailers to sell more to improve their chances of winning the grand prize at next year’s Ka-Partner assembly. Load sales are automatically converted as entries to the raffle during the succeeding retailers convention.

PLDT-Smart Ka-Partner retailers are usually found at our neighborhood sari-sari or grocery stores. They can also be a friend or a relative from whom we can buy airtime credits or load, wherever they may be.

Close to 20,000 load retailers from all over the Philippines gathered for a day of entertainment, fun games, and exciting prizes at the PLDT-Smart Amazing Ka-Partner convention, which was held between May and August in 20 various locations nationwide.

The winner from Leyte (fourth from right) receives the grand prize during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention at Leyte Academic Center in Palo.

The winner from Leyte (fourth from right) receives the grand prize during the Amazing Ka-Partner convention at Leyte Academic Center in Palo.

Incentives to retailers

The activity is part of PLDT-Smart’s Ka-Partner Rewards program, which gives incentives to the companies’ more than 1 million load retailers to help them grow their businesses and enhance their livelihood, while enabling communities to stay connected.

This year’s convention theme is #PLDTSmartAmazingSaBenta as load retailers are assured of bigger income and better business opportunities given the improved mobile and internet experience of PLDT and Smart customers. The improved connectivity can be attributed to PLDT-Smart’s network upgrades, with the expansion of fiber network and accelerated deployment of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service nationwide.

A lucky Ka-Partner retailer wins a raffle prize during the convention in Leyte.

A lucky Ka-Partner retailer wins a raffle prize during the convention in Leyte.

The convention is PLDT-Smart’s way of giving back to load retailers or Ka-Partners, whose sales account for a significant share of the company’s revenues.

The gathering featured topnotch entertainment from today’s hottest stars, and raffle draws where as much as P1 million was given away. The venues also hosted a trade fair, where Ka-Partners availed of products, services, and various opportunities to help them grow their business further.

Load retailers also received assistance in using the Ka-Partner app, which could help them keep track of their sales with its digital sales ledger and inventory management features. (Press Release)


Video, mobile games boost Smart’s data usage and revenues

PLDT Inc.’s resurgent mobile business posted record revenue growth in the first quarter of 2019, riding on the growing appetite of its customers for online video and mobile games.

Service revenues of its individual wireless business, which includes the consumer sales of its Smart, Sun and TNT mobile brands, jumped 18% year-on-year to P16.9 billion, net of interconnection costs. The surge in revenues was driven by a robust increase in data and broadband revenues which accounted for 65% of the total.

PLDT’s wireless brands also added 3.4 million customers in the first quarter of 2019, adding to a subscriber base that is increasingly becoming more active in using data. About two-thirds of these subscribers are smartphone owners, of whom about 70% are data users. Mobile data traffic rose by 127% year-on-year to 304 petabytes.

Video, mobile gaming

These data-savvy customers are watching more and more video on their smartphones. With the introduction of the Video Every Day data packages late last year, more customers have been accessing various video services like YouTube, NBA, iWant and iFlix.

The monthly users of YouTube, already boosted by last year’s Free YouTube promo, further increased by 35% in the first quarter. Viewers of other popular video apps also increased sharply: users of the NBA video service nearly doubled; those of iWant soared 153%; and iflix, 170%.

Mobile gaming has contributed to the continuing increase in data usage, following PLDT and Smart’s initiatives to organize their official professional eSports team, “Omega”. They also sponsored the professional league in the Philippines of the popular mobile game Mobile Legends.

The upshot: the number of monthly unique users of Mobile Legends increased by 5x from June 2018 to end-March 2019.

Mobile gaming Smart, PLDT network

PLDT network upgrades

To support Filipinos’ increasing appetite for data, PLDT and Smart are continuously expanding and modernizing their fixed and mobile networks, backed by a historic-high capital expenditure of P78.4 billion this year. The capex investments are to further expand coverage and to increase capacity to handle the exponential growth in data traffic. The ultimate aim is to deliver the best data customer experience.

The growth of mobile video viewing among Smart subscribers, for example, has been supported by the ability of its cellular network to deliver what internet analytics firm OpenSignal called, in its latest country analysis, “the better video experience.” Other third-party organizations like Ookla, Tutela and P3 have also recognized the network superiority of the PLDT group network.

More LTE base stations

Smart has added about 1,700 LTE base stations in the first quarter, raising the total to about 18,000. Smart is also activating carrier aggregation across its sites, enabling the network to deliver even faster mobile internet services by combining the capacity of two or more frequency bands. Smart has likewise also increased its 3G base station count to about 12,100.

Meanwhile, PLDT has further expanded its total fiber optic cable network footprint to 259,000 kilometers. PLDT’s fiber-powered fixed line broadband network has now passed 6.7 million homes as of end-March, while total number of fiber ports available has reached 2.96 million, of which 1.2 million are available for new customers.

PLDT’s fiber network also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to cellular base stations.

PLDT has also partnered with global technology leader Cisco to help transform its fiber transport network in to a fully automated, software-defined 5G-ready IP transport network over the next three years.

“This transport transformation program is a crucial part of our ambition to strengthen the network leadership that PLDT and Smart nave won through consistent efforts over the past three years,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering. (Press Release)


PLDT, Smart named fastest networks, widen lead over competitors

PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) continue to set the pace for Internet services in the Philippines, posting the country’s fastest fixed and mobile data speeds for the first half of 2019, according to Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.

The latest report, which covers Q1-Q2 2019, also shows both PLDT and Smart widening their respective leads over their competitors.

According to the Ookla report, PLDT achieved a Speed Score of 20.44, with top download speeds of 51.36 Mbps and top upload speeds of 54.22 Mbps. The fixed network award is based on 25,169,867 customer-initiated Speedtest nationwide for the same period.

On the other hand, Smart achieved a Speed Score of 17.07, with average download speeds of 19.33 Mbps and average upload speeds of 9.16 Mbps. The mobile award is based on 1,857,286 consumer-initiated tests taken with Speedtest on LTE-capable devices in the Philippines.

Speed score improvement

Speed Score is a measure that takes into account both upload and download speeds.

These latest figures are improvements from the Q3-Q4 2018 scores, when Smart posted a Speed Score of 15.57 and PLDT achieved a speed score of 18.57.

PLDT and Smart have also widened their respective leads over their competitors in terms of Speed Scores. For instance, from a gap of between 7.3 to 9.2 in Q3-Q4 2018, PLDT now leads over its competitors by as much as 8.7 to 10. Smart, on the other hand, widened its lead from 5.5 to 7.

Drilling down, initial data also showed PLDT posting big leads in key cities like Quezon City, Cebu City and Pasig, whereas Smart’s Speed Score more than double that of competition in Quezon City, Makati, and Manila.

In Pasig City, for example, PLDT posted a Speed Score of 21.7, more than 9 points ahead of Globe’s 12.2, while PLDT’s 20.77 Speed Score in Cebu City is double that of Globe’s 10.46 Speed Score in the area.

Meanwhile, Smart’s Speed Scores were consistently more than double that of Globe’s in Quezon City, Makati and Manila.

Better customer experience

“Our network investments have considerably improved customer experience so that they can now watch videos without buffering, update their social media accounts, or easily check their email and open attachments while on-the-go,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.

“Now that our subscribers use more data, and as we continue to bring in new customers, we have to ensure they get fast and reliable connection all the time. We continue to build and expand our fiber and LTE network to meet those needs,” Tamayo added.

For mobile, Speed Score incorporates a measure of each provider’s download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. Tests used to calculate the Speed Score exclusively come from ‘modern devices’, which are devices capable of connecting to the market’s fastest, generally available technology.

For fixed, Ookla assesses the best network speeds attained across a given network, accounting for tests that are taken on various Speedtest applications that connect to a fixed network, including tests taken on mobile phones over a Wi-Fi connection. Each top carrier accounts for at least 3% of the sample size in the geographic area.

Speedtest Fastest Fixed Network PLDT OOKLA

Integrated fixed, mobile network upgrades

PLDT’s total fiber optic cable network footprint is now at over 259,000 kilometers, while its fiber-powered fixed line broadband network has now passed 6.7 million homes as of end-March.

Of LTE sites nationwide, 71% have already been upgraded to LTE-A, which means each cell site has multiple LTE base stations activated. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, Smart deployed an additional 1,700 LTE base stations across its sites nationwide, raising the LTE base station count to around 18,000 as of the first quarter.

Smart has also already fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access.

Investment in network transformation

This recognition comes as PLDT and Smart continue to pour significant resources into their integrated fixed and wireless network expansion, which is backed by a historic-high capital expenditure of P78.4 billion this year.

Alongside Smart’s ramped-up LTE and LTE-A roll out, PLDT is also aggressively rolling out its fiber broadband service, which also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.

PLDT has also partnered with global technology leader Cisco to help transform its fiber transport network in to a fully automated, software-defined 5G-ready IP transport network over the next three years.

Business Tech

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 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.


PLDT taps Uber to transport employees

PLDT is going digital in its fleet management by tapping ridesharing company Uber to transport employees.

Under Uber for Business, sales personnel of PLDT and its subsidiaries Smart Communications and Voyager Innovations Inc. are given an Uber for Business account that is linked to a central payment account where fares are automatically charged. This means the employees do not need to shell out personal money and ask for reimbursement later on, the company said.

“Through this, the PLDT group takes its digital pivot further by becoming the country’s first and biggest conglomerate to use digital solutions to augment its fleet management,” said Eric R. Alberto, PLDT Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer.

Paperless transactions, analytics

“Through progressive and digital fleet management, we enable our employees to really focus only on delivering awesome customer experiences when they go about their day-to-day duties, without worrying about transportation and parking issues, this via paperless transactions and analytics,” he added.

In this partnership, the PLDT group can also access a dashboard which indicates commonly used delivery routes, thereby supplying data that can help in maximizing these trips.

“Apart from efficiency, this can also translate to savings for the company, because instead of buying additional vehicles and spending for their fuel, maintenance, insurance and parking fees, we are simply outsourcing transportation services whenever the need arises,” Alberto said.

Save costs

“Uber is excited to offer solutions to companies like the PLDT group and allow us to work together not only to solve traffic, but also to save on costs of buying brand new cars. By using technologies like Uber for Business, companies are able to unlock new ways to meet employee transportation needs whenever they want, at the push of a button. We are helping shape the future of travel and simplify processes,” said Uber Philippines General Manager Laurence Cua.

Uber for Business is currently on a pilot test-run among PLDT, Smart and Voyager employees, and will later be rolled out to a larger base in the future.

In addition to cost savings, the partnership also aims to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and ease traffic congestion by facilitating carpooling among employees.

Earlier this year, uberHOP rides for employees during morning and afternoon rush hours were launched, with designated convergence points in Quezon City and Parañaque, which had been pre-identified through a survey. Each uberHOP ride can accommodate up to 6 passengers.  (Press Release)


PLDT bags 18 Anvil awards for outstanding communications programs

PLDT HOME harvested 8 trophies, including 3 Gold Anvil Awards for its Most Beautiful Connection video, “Strengthening the Volleyball Community with the Volley Friends” program and “Gabay Guro 2016.” PLDT Enterprise took home 9 awards, garnering a gold trophy for its Hot Joe Magazine. PLDT Public Affairs, meanwhile, received a Silver Anvil for the PLDT 2015 Annual Report – Virtual is Real.

The annual Anvil Awards honors the most outstanding communications programs and tools implemented from October 2015 to October 2016. The Anvil recognizes outstanding public relations programs and tools, as well as the agencies and companies that have created out-of-the-box business communication initiatives.

PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan (center) led the PLDT Group in celebrating this achievement, together with top executives of the company, including PLDT FVP and Head of SME Nation Mitch Locsin, PLDT Public Affairs Head and SVP Mon Isberto, and PLDT VP and Head of HOME Marketing Gary Dujali.


PLDT Anvil Awards
The PLDT Home team with PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.


PLDT Anvil Awards
PLDT Gabay Guro was lauded for its 2016 campaign and TeacherFest tribute event at the recent 52nd Anvil Awards.


PLDT rolls out ‘Fibr City’ program in Toledo City

Leading telecoms and digital services provider PLDT has stepped up its roll-out of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) facilities in strategic urban centers nationwide with Toledo City in Cebu becoming its first ever “Fibr City” project, where families and enterprises can enjoy world-class internet connectivity.

Through a partnership with the Toledo City government, the FTTH roll-out will serve the data connectivity needs of this fast-growing city with its mining industry and burgeoning tourism sector. PLDT is opening a Sales and Service Center on D. Macapagal Highway to serve its growing customer base in the city.

1 Gbps connectivity

“Fitted with the country’s most powerful broadband, Toledo City will now have access to fiber-fast internet speeds of as much as 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps),” PLDT FVP and Head of Home Business Oscar Reyes Jr. said. “This will allow family members to download movies in seconds, play games without any lags, and install security applications inside their homes.”

“PLDT HOME’s decision to pioneer its first Fibr City in Toledo is part of expansion plans in Central Philippines where we are accelerating our fiber roll-out aimed at bringing the strongest connections to more Filipinos,” Reyes noted.

PLDT Fibr City
PLDT FVP and Head of Home Business Oscar Reyes Jr., shown in the photo during the opening of the concept store in SM Seaside City Cebu, said Toledo City “will now have access to fiber-fast internet speeds of as much as 1 Gigabit per second.”

Entertainment, gaming

For plans starting at P1,899 a month, subscribers can access compelling entertainment and gaming content from PLDT Home partners and renowned providers like iflix, Netflix, Fox+, and iWant TV, among others, at minimal subscription fees.

Families will also enjoy added peace of mind with home security devices such as the home monitoring system Fam Cam, the cyber security platform Fam Zone and the multi-functional kiddie gadget Smart Watch.

With a footprint of around 2.8 million homes passed as of end-2016, PLDT is further expanding the reach of its FTTH network by about 80% to 4.4 million homes passed by the end of the year, making available the ultra-fast internet connection to more Filipino families in various parts of the country.

PLDT Fibr City Toledo City
For plans starting at P1,899 a month, subscribers can access compelling entertainment and gaming content from PLDT Home partners and renowned providers like iflix, Netflix, Fox+, and iWant TV, among others, at minimal subscription fees.

Smart homes

To further extend the reach of its fiber-speed internet service, PLDT has also started to deploy hybrid fiber technologies such as Huawei Technologies’ which can boost data speeds up to 600-700 Mbps over existing copper lines.

PLDT envisions that all of its subscribers will be in “smart homes” by end-2018 enabled by PLDT’s combined FTTH and fiber-fast services. PLDT will thus have an unrivaled robust and cost-efficient platform for offering its growing portfolio of entertainment, “peace of mind,” and other “Smart Home” services.

PLDT has invested P300 billion or $6 billion over the last 10 years to roll out the country’s most extensive transmission and distribution network infrastructure which now has 150,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables that transport the growing data traffic of its fixed line and mobile networks. (Press Release)


LTE, 3G speeds significantly up in Metro Cebu

The nationwide network modernization program of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), the mobile unit of PLDT, Inc., is in full swing and recent field tests in Metro Cebu are showing impressive LTE and 3G speeds in the Visayas region’s premier urban hub.

Internal field tests conducted in key areas in and around Metro Cebu have shown that download speeds on Smart’s LTE service have jumped at least 146% to 19.7 Mbps and have reached up to 52 Mbps in certain areas like Cordova, while upload speeds have also risen by 134% to 14.3 Mbps.

Download speeds on Smart’s 3G service, on the other hand, are also up 275% to 6 Mbps, while upload speeds likewise improved 45% to 1.6 Mbps.

LTE speeds in Metro Cebu

LTE speeds exceeding 20 Mbps have been recorded in both indoor and outdoor areas around Metro Cebu.

LTE speeds of more than 24 Mbps were recorded in SM Seaside Mountain Wing and Banilad Road in Cebu City, while speeds in excess of 37 Mbps were reached in Jollibee Minglanilla.

LTE speeds above 21 Mbps were also posted in tourist-favorite Lantaw Native Restaurant in Mactan and at the Mactan International Airport, while LTE reached speeds of 47 Mbps in Brgy. Tingub in Mandaue City.

Magellan’s Cross. Speeds exceeding 20 Mbps were recorded at Magellan’s Cross using LTE-capable handsets.

Carrier aggregation, LTE-Advanced

On the other hand, speeds in excess of 90 Mbps have also been achieved in and around the Minglanilla Sports Complex, using carrier aggregation (CA) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)-capable handsets.

Carrier aggregation refers to the capability of LTE-A to combine two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and much faster data speeds to mobile users.

“We are accelerating the rollout of LTE because it provides an immediate significant boost to the speed, quality and reliability of our service. Moreover, it lays the foundation for the rollout of LTE-A with CA and puts us in a position to further improve internet service as more handsets capable of CA become available in the market,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor for PLDT and Smart.

Just initial results

“These are just initial results, and we are already nearing the midpoint of our implementation in Metro Cebu,” Horn added.

“We are asking for people’s patience and understanding as we make changes in our network facilities. These activities are being done during the most inactive hours of the day, and we are putting systems in place to minimize the impact 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,” said Horn.

These improvements were brought about by an increase in 3G and LTE base stations in Metro Cebu, which are up by 16% and 108%, respectively. As a result, data volume traffic on 3G and LTE have also increased, according to network monitoring data.

Fast, reliable network

“In upgrading mobile and data services in Metro Cebu, we are helping improve the quality of life in one of the country’s biggest provinces, where millions work and play,” said Horn.

Metro Cebu is home to more than 2.8 million Filipinos, while passenger arrivals at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport hit nearly 9 million last year. It is also the country’s largest outsourcing destination outside of Metro Manila.

“This progress in Metro Cebu is just a preview of what Smart will be rolling out to the rest of the island and the rest of the country—a fast and reliable mobile data network for all Smart subscribers,” Horn added.

Nationwide expansion program

This is part of Smart’s nationwide network expansion and overhaul program to improve both coverage and quality of service, particularly its LTE service. Earlier, Smart already completed its network overhaul program in Boracay and Metro Davao, where users have already reported improved quality of LTE services.

A major leg of this network expansion is also currently underway in and around Metro Manila, where it is likewise expected to significantly boost Smart’s voice, SMS, and mobile data services, specially its indoor LTE coverage.

The fruits of the Metro Manila rollout can now be felt in nearby Rizal, where Smart’s average LTE download speeds jumped 455% to 23.3 Mbps, and average 3G download speeds rose by 37% to 3.7 Mbps, on the back of significant increases in the number of LTE and 3G base stations in the province.

Redemptorist Church. LTE-capable handsets were also able to post download speeds as high as 36 Mbps outside Redemptorist Church.

Acceleration of LTE deployment

Network improvement activities in Metro Cebu include re-equipping cell sites to use low-frequency bands such as 700 MHz, 850 MHz, and 900 MHz for its LTE and 3G services. These frequency bands travel farther than high-frequency bands thus providing mobile data services better coverage, including indoors.

Smart’s network rollout took a big bulk of parent company PLDT’s ramped-up capital expenditure program of $1 billion for 2016, with an additional $100 million allocated to utilize the new frequencies freed up with the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation’s telco assets.

In the three-year network roll-out plan that PLDT submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last July, Smart said it is focused on accelerating its LTE deployment, to make it progressively available to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

LTE, an all-IP network, delivers superior experience for users, particularly for data. It can also be quickly upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even faster speeds and greater capacity to subscribers who are using LTE SIMs on LTE-capable handsets.

Bandwidth-heavy services

Smart began rolling out its LTE-A service in April 2016 in preparation for the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming and gaming. Initially rolled out in Boracay, Smart’s LTE-A service delivers peak speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable smartphones.

“The Smart network modernization program is a key part of the PLDT Group’s massive nationwide effort to roll out superior and reliable fixed and mobile networks for the delivery of a wide range of content and gigabit digital solutions. Through the group’s superior telecommunication networks, PLDT and Smart will deliver impressive customer experience,” said Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Chief Corporate Services Officer at PLDT and Smart. (Press Release)

Business Lifestyle

PLDT, Smart, TV5, Solar converge to bring ultimate Miss Universe 2016 experience to Filipinos

Leading Philippine telco and digital services provider PLDT and mobile leader Smart Communications together with broadcast station TV5 will bring the much anticipated Miss Universe 2016 closer to Filipinos everywhere through the country’s most extensive and robust fixed line and wireless networks.

In partnership with the Miss Universe Organization and official Philippine broadcast partner of Miss Universe 2016 Solar Entertainment, the PLDT Group will enable the best viewing experience of the pageant in the Philippines through its various terrestrial and digital channels, across multiple screens at home and on-the-go.

“With the Miss Universe crown currently in our homeland, the enthusiasm for and connection of Filipinos to the global pageant is now stronger than ever,” PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan said. “With the combined reach of PLDT, Smart and TV5, we are providing our countrymen more ways to enjoy the pageant. We are giving them exclusive access to behind-the-scenes and key events such as the very popular swimsuit and long gown competitions, and of course, real-time viewing of the much-awaited coronation night.”

MISS UNIVERSE BROADCAST. Shawn McClain, Wilson Tieng, Manny V. Pangilinan, Eric Alberto, and Chot Reyes during the signing of the agreement. (Contributed photo)

Robust network, multi-platform

“With our robust network capabilities and the largest consumer base of over 75 million Filipinos, millions of fans can watch the pageant events via multiple platforms, whether on TV, laptop or mobile—whenever they want, wherever they want. For years, we have been revolutionizing the way entertainment is consumed in the nation, offering our subscribers an extensive entertainment portfolio featuring top digital entertainment partners. Miss Universe is one platform we would not miss out on,” Pangilinan said.

PLDT and Smart will provide fixed broadband and mobile connectivity to power the Miss Universe pageant throughout their stay in the Philippines. With the country’s widest Fibr broadband network which delivers symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps and Smart’s superior mobile LTE network, consumers can be assured of the best real-time Miss Universe experience.

“The Internet and social media will undoubtedly play a substantial role in Miss Universe in the Philippines,” PLDT and Smart Chief Revenue Officer Eric Alberto said. “We are ready to contribute our topnotch products and services to make it a more engaging experience for everyone. Miss Universe 2016 will be using PLDT and Smart’s services throughout their entire journey, while fans will be able to immerse themselves in not only the coronation night, but also on all the exciting events leading up to it. True to our promise of bringing the ultimate Miss Universe experience, our subscribers will get a chance to witness the coronation night live via free ticket promos.”

Extensive Miss Universe coverage

On top of the complete broadcast coverage of the coronation night, TV5 will give viewers access to the preliminary show, specifically the swimsuit and long gown rounds. “Filipinos can look forward to watching their favorite contestants compete even before the grand finale, which is something only TV5 can offer,” TV5 President and CEO Chot Reyes said. “We aim to bring the pageant to life by bringing it closer to the hearts and enthusiasm of every Filipino.”

TV5 signed with Solar for the partnership which encompasses on-air, on-ground, and PR values—the blocktime airing of the Coronation Night on January 30, the exclusive airing of the long gown and swimsuit preliminary competitions on January 28 and 29 which will also be available online on the same day, powered by PLDT and Smart.

Solar Entertainment takes pride in collaborating with TV5, PLDT, and Smart in the hope of delivering the optimum broadcast quality coverage of this momentous event, showcasing the wonders and beauty of the Philippines, and giving our fellow Filipinos the ultimate Miss Universe experience, the press statement said.

“Bringing Miss Universe to the Philippines is one of the top events that we have ever invested in. It is an opportunity that we did not want to miss,” said Mr. Wilson Tieng, President and CEO of Solar Entertainment Corporation. “For Miss Universe, we have jam-packed activities that will be happening at the same time and we’re excited to share it with the viewers.” (Press Release)


Globe, PLDT sign agreement to cut interconnection rate for voice calls

Globe Telecom signed a memorandum of understanding with PLDT to reduce the interconnection rate for voice calls between the two operators.

The agreement will lead to lower price of domestic mobile and fixed line calls between Globe and PLDT-Smart. The reduction of interconnection rates will not affect Globe to Globe (intra) calls as these are not subject to interconnect charges and are already offered to consumers in an unlimited basis.

International calls are not covered by the agreement.

Globe PLDT interconnection
AGREEMENT. Signing the interconnection rate cut agreement are (from left) Globe General Counsel Froilan Castelo, Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, Globe Chief Technology and Information Officer Gil Genio, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, PLDT’s Eric Alberto, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba and PLDT’s Ray Espinosa. (Contributed photo)

NTC order

Under the deal, the two telcos committed to take steps to lower retail rates for voice, taking into consideration the reduction in interconnection rates. Both parties also committed to maintain GOS (grade of service) in interconnection. This means both operators will ensure that sufficient telecommunications circuits or routes are available for efficient transmission of calls.

The agreement is related to the issuance by the National Telecommunications Commission of a memorandum circular providing for a reduction in the interconnection rate between the two networks.

Under the circular, interconnection charge for voice calls should not be more than P2.50 per minute from P4.00 per minute previously, representing a 38% cut. The reduction should take effect not later than January 1, 2017.

More robust economy

“For many years now, Globe has been strongly advocating the rationalization of interconnect access charge between the two telcos. We are confident that a reduction in the cost of interconnection for voice calls will eventually redound to a more robust economy, providing our customers with an affordable and easily accessible way of communication,” said Globe Chief Technology and Information Officer Gil Genio said.

Genio, along with General Counsel Atty. Froilan Castelo, signed for Globe. Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba witnessed the signing.

The NTC said the decision to lower interconnection rates is in line with efforts to reduce communications costs, maintain and foster fair competition in the telecommunications industry as well as to make mobile voice service more affordable to the public. (Press release)

Business Tech

PLDT Home, Smart sign partnership with ABS-CBN for iWant TV

In a groundbreaking partnership, the country’s leading digital services providers PLDT Home and Smart Communications have teamed up with multimedia conglomerate ABS-CBN for iWant TV, the network’s streaming service for TV shows, movies and other exclusive digital content.

Under the partnership, PLDT Home and Smart subscribers will soon be able to use their prepaid load or postpaid account to binge-watch and catch up on their favorite ABS-CBN shows, blockbuster films and other top-rated content on on their computers or Smart TVs, or on the iWant TV app on their mobile phones and tablets.

Both PLDT Home and Smart will also soon roll out exciting offers to let millions of subscribers enjoy iWant TV content at their fingertips.

PARTNERSHIP. PLDT and Smart Chair Manny V. Pangilinan and ABS-CBN Chair Eugenio Gabby Lopez III lead the signing of the milestone partnership of PLDT Home and Smart Communications with ABS-CBN for iWant TV. Also in the photo are (from left) Oscar Reyes, FVP and Head of Home Business for PLDT; Ariel P. Fermin, EVP and Head of Consumer Business for PLDT and Smart; Carlo Katigbak, ABS-CBN President & CEO; and Rolando Valdueza, ABS-CBN Group CFO.

Expand digital content

Using iWant TV, subscribers may stream the past and current ABS-CBN shows like On the Wings of Love, Dolce Amore, Ang Probinsiyano and Til I Met You, as well as News and Current Affairs shows, among many others – anytime and anywhere.

This latest deal is set to further expand the widest breadth of digital content available to PLDT Home and Smart subscribers, as well as bolster the group’s thrust to deliver converged services that offer an unrivaled digital experience for Filipinos.

To get started with iWant TV, users can register for an account via or download the iWant TV app on their Android and iOS devices.


PLDT Gabay Guro continues to soar higher heights

Nine years ago, a small group of like-minded PLDT executives banded together over coffee for an advocacy for teachers. With a common dream of being a catalyst of change in the lives of teachers, Gabay Guro was born and became the CSR arm under the PLDT-Smart Foundation.

What transpired after that day revolutionized education-based advocacy efforts in many levels giving birth to a holistic approach that is anchored on the Gabay Guro pillars – Scholarships, Trainings, Housing and Educational Facilities, Livelihood Programs, Broadbanding and Computerization, and Teachers’ Tribute.

Champion excellence

Gabay Guro has championed excellence and paid tribute to teachers all over the country (and even nearby countries) by bringing attention to their heroic deeds and at the same time, providing them with the necessary tools to contribute to the change in the lives of their students and their families.

To this day, Gabay Guro managed to thrive on volunteerism – mostly among the ranks of the executives from PLDT and Smart.

Gabay Guro has over 1,100 scholars in various state colleges and universities nationwide. There are over 300 LET passers, 496 active scholars as of August, 2016 and a projected 167 graduates in 2017. Gabay Guro also celebrates the fact that 137 scholars graduated with honors – 112 cum laudes and 25 magna cum laudes. Gabay Guro has also partnered with local government units to further teacher education.

PLDT Gabay Guro

Training for teachers

The foundation has conducted trainings for over 16,000 teachers in the course of its nine years. Today, it runs eight training programs for teachers around the country namely: Teacher’s Treasure Chest; English Proficiency Training; Computer Literacy; Emotional Intelligence; Teacher’s Armor; Leadership Training; IT Sustainability and Literacy; and Unleashing Creativity in Teaching. At the same time, Gabay Guro answers to the needs of the times by doing grassroots anti-drugs trainings in schools.

Gabay Guro’s initiative on Broadband and Computerization has had great impact nationwide. All partner-schools were recipients of either computers/laptop or internet connections from PLDT or Smart.

Educational facilities

Knowing that shortage of educational facilities is a major problem area in the Philippine education system, Gabay Guro has taken the cudgels in the construction of classrooms in the provinces, mostly those that have been hit by debilitating calamities. There are over 40 classrooms constructed and donated already in the following provinces: Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Capiz.

Gabay Guro has grown to be the force that it is today. Whereas in the beginning, there were only a couple of thousand member-teachers under its stable. In 2016, it has 20,000-strong membership (and growing!) at its helm and has easily taken over the leadership, the one that sets the bar of service, in all education-related NGOs around the nation.

Nation builders

Ms. Chaye Revilla and the Gabay Guro team of visionaries with her in the foundation, were propelled by this belief: “our nation’s children depend on our nation’s teachers to lead them to the future. And this teachers’ month, Gabay Guro gives tribute to those who teach the next generation of nation-builders.”

The pinnacle of Gabay Guro’s celebration is embodied in the tribute event held every year at the MOA Arena. Year after year, the organizers leave no stone unturned ensuring that it is in Gabay Guro where teachers get to be treated like royalty. Generosity at its finest, raffle prizes have grown to be the staggering house and lot and vehicle showcases and livelihood opportunities that they are today in every Gabay Guro tribute event.

The Gabay Guro’s 9th Teacher’s Tribute this year, the biggest gathering of the country’s celebrities, will be held on Sept. 25 at the MOA Arena. Stellar names set to give the teachers the time of their lives are Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Gary Valenciano, Pops Fernandez, James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Lea Salonga and megastar Sharon Cuneta and more surprise guests on the big day.

Entertainment, raffles

This is the day when teachers get to let their hair loose, meet the biggest celebrities, be treated to a whole day of entertainment and huge raffle prizes that include a house and lot and vehicles., to remind them of their invaluable presence in our lives.

This year’s event is made possible through the help of the following sponsors: Perry’s Group of Companies (for the house and lot), Foton for the (Gratour Van), Intel, Devant, Motorlandia (for the Honda and Suzuki motorcyles), Ropali, Penshoppe, National Bookstore, Enchanted Kingdom, Splash, Tempra, Flanax, Bonamine, Vivalyte, Mundipharma, Gardenia, Bic, Art Attack, Microsoft, Smart Bro, Ultera, Talk N Text and 51 Talk.

The PLDT Gabay Guro grand tribute event is exclusive to teachers. Admission is free. Follow Gabay Guro on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PLDTGabayGuro or visit the Gabay Guro official website for more details. (Press release)


PLDT, Smart boost data connectivity in Davao airport

PLDT and Smart Communications have strengthened access to the internet with the installation of Smart Wifi in Davao City’s Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

The upgrade of the wireless connectivity in the airport would enable travelers using the passenger terminal to maximize their digital experience while connecting to their loved ones and friends via social media, or checking out details like the weather and must-do’s in their next destination. With a bandwidth of 1 gigabit per second, Smart Wifi promises a world-class digital experience. Single-user tests done during the inauguration showed speeds of up to 226mbps for downloading, and up to 126mbps for uploading.

“Connectivity is important for a country of many islands like the Philippines. The Smart Wifi is just the first in a series of projects that the Department of Transportation intends to roll out in the coming days in partnership with PLDT and Smart,” said Transportation Undersecretary Roberto Lim.

PLDT and Smart strengthen wireless connectivity at the Davao International Airport. In photo are from left, Arnold Dellosa, Head, Smart Regional Development for Mindanao; Regina Pineda, Head, Smart Wifi Marketing and Project Management; Transportation Undersecretary Bobby Lim, Finina Tabuena-Gorres, VP for enterprise customer operations management sector at PLDT and Smart, Davao International Airport manager Efren Nagrama, and Harold Kim Orbase, Head of Enterprise Fulfillment Management at PLDT.
PLDT and Smart strengthen wireless connectivity at the Davao International Airport. In photo are from left, Arnold Dellosa, Head, Smart Regional Development for Mindanao; Regina Pineda, Head, Smart Wifi Marketing and Project Management; Transportation Undersecretary Bobby Lim, Finina Tabuena-Gorres, VP for enterprise customer operations management sector at PLDT and Smart, Davao International Airport manager Efren Nagrama, and Harold Kim Orbase, Head of Enterprise Fulfillment Management at PLDT.


Gateway to the south

“A tourist’s impression of a country will be largely based on the first and last experience of his destination. Smart Wifi contributes to improving this experience and to the success of having them come over and visit again,” added Lim.

Considered as the gateway to the southern corridor, the Davao airport is the third busiest airport in the country serving close to 3 million passengers annually. For the first quarter of this year alone, over 818,000 inbound and outbound passengers made use of the airport, according to data from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines office in Davao.

“Davao City, a growing regional tourism and business hub, welcomes Smart Wifi. Travelers will be delighted to stay connected even when they are on the go. Passengers can check emails, browse websites, chat with friends, read news, and a whole lot more. These make traveling a whole lot better,” said Davao City Councilor Joanne Bonguyan-Quilos.

Internet can ease the waiting

“Potential flight delays and waiting time for passengers won’t be as difficult anymore because Internet access can ease the waiting. As airport manager, I find that free Internet access also lessens our burden in ensuring that passengers have a good time while traveling to and from their destinations,” said Davao International Airport manager Efren Nagrama.

“The Smart Wifi rollout in the Davao airport is in line with our commitment to the public to improve Internet access and coverage nationwide. With the data connectivity, travelers will get to enjoy a seamless digital experience for more meaningful journeys,” said Eric R. Alberto, Executive Vice President and Head of Enterprise and International Carrier Business at PLDT and Smart.

The Davao airport is one of 21 major transport hubs identified by the DOTr for installation of Smart Wifi as outlined by the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and PLDT and Smart chairman, president and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Smart Davao Airport
Davao City Councilor Joanne Bonguyan-Quilos (right) and Finina Tabuena-Gorres, VP for enterprise customer operations management sector at PLDT and Smart try the speed test using the Smart Wifi at the Davao City airport.


Initial rollout

The initial rollout also includes all four passenger terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as well as airports in Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Laguindingan, General Santos, Clark, Laoag, Cebu, Caticlan, and Zamboanga, as well as seaports in Batangas and Mindoro.

Commuters will get to experience fast connectivity in the station platforms, light rail vehicle, and on the street level of the entire lines of MRT3, and LRT 1 and 2.

It will also be available at the terminals of major bus companies including Alps, Five Star Bus, Isarog Bus, Jam Liner, Philtranco, and Victory Liner.

Over time, Smart Wifi’s footprint will also be expanded to cover more public areas, such as city halls, schools, hospitals, and establishments such as malls, restaurants, and coffee shops, among many others, amid the increasing demand for more public Wifi hotspots in the country.

The rollout is backed by PLDT’s robust and resilient fixed and wireless networks. (Press Release)

Business Tech

MVP: PLDT to spend a billion dollars a year to speed up Internet, improve services

PLDT will be spending a billion dollars a year to improve its Internet service, PLDT and Smart chairman, president, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan told journalists in an interview last night after the company’s Annual Stockholders’ Meeting in Makati Shangri-la.

“We are quite good at building the relevant infrastructure for Internet and data. And that’s what we’re gonna build, we’re gonna build up to 50,000 WiFi hotspots, we’re gonna Internet the entire country, we want to ‘own’ the Internet, as we did in the case of the mobile network and the fixed line network,” Pangilinan said.

He said the issue now is on the “data infrastructure and if we have to spend a billion dollars a year for the next few years, then so be it, right? That’s how resolved we are in building the relevant infrastructure.”

Manny Pangilinan PLDT
MASSIVE TRANSFORMATION. PLDT and Smart chairman, president, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan talks to journalists after giving his report in the annual stockholders’ meeting.

Massive effort to transform network

In speaking before company stockholders during their annual meeting, Pangilinan described the CAPEX level of close to a billion dollars this year as a reflection of “a massive effort to transform our networks into the country’s most extensive and data-capable infrastructure.” (See related story)

“Now what rides on that network is another matter: content yun, nobody in the world has a monopoly of content or applications or solutions,” he said.

When asked about criticisms on having the slowest Internet speed in the region, he said, “we’re in the middle of the pack in the ASEAN. We’re not the slowest but of course we’re not the fastest, either… I think we should destroy the myth that we’re the slowest in the region.”

“We are not in disagreement with government, whether this government or the next government that we should improve Internet services. Yes. Totally. No argument. We are violently in agreement. No disagreement there,” he said.

Initial rollout in Cebu, Davao, Manila

But Pangilinan said the rollout will take time. The initial phase will involve the putting up of new cell sites that use the 700 Mhz band they recently bought from San Miguel. He said the company will install 300 such cell sites in Cebu, Davao, and Manila by the end of the year.

During his report, Pangilinan highlighted results of an Internet speed test on a 700 MHz cell site in Tanay, Rizal that used carrier aggregation using the 700 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands. The engineers clocked a top download speed of 222 Mbps.

Expanding coverage

This initial rollout will be followed by an “expanding coverage” within the next 3 years, he said.

This initial rollout, however, will only benefit those who are using phones that support the 700 MHz band. Pangilinan said they are talking to global manufacturers to add support for this frequency in their devices. This, however, “will take a few months and they will have to bring the price points down.

“Usually, the adoption will hit the A-B sector then move down to the C and then D. Once there are more and more handsets built, then the price points will come down. This is not an instant gratification,” he said.

PLDT Group spokesperson Ramon R. Isberto said MyPhone is set to release within August to September 9 units that support the 700 MHz, including a pocket Wi-Fi.

Pangilinan also highlighted the converged services and offerings of the PLDT group. He said the bundling of such services as fixed line, data, TV and entertainment is to the benefit of the consumer. But, he said, they will also have options of unbundling.

“We want to own the home because that is where the strength of the group is. The fixed line network is a very robust and very extensive network,” he added.

Business Tech

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 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.

Business Tech

PLDT launches #MyNumber service to help companies widen reach

To help enterprises expand their market and increase engagement with customers, leading telecommunications and multimedia company PLDT has come up with the #MyNumber service.

The PLDT #MyNumber solution simplifies a company’s hotline system to a single number combination of four to eight digits beginning with the hash sign (#), said Marc Frederick Roxas, category head of PLDT SME Data Solutions.

With PLDT #MyNumber, businesses can replace their roster of contact numbers and area codes for all branches nationwide with one national hotline. The hotline is reachable through PLDT landlines as well as Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular mobile phones.

Roxas added during the launch of the service in Cebu yesterday, March 26, that the vanity number allows customers to easily reach companies and addresses the challenges of marketing materials that must carry different contact numbers for different stores.

PLDT #MyNumber Cebu launch
PLDT #MYNUMBER LAUNCH. PLDT SME Data Solutions category head Marc Frederick Roxas discusses features of the #MyNumber service during the Cebu launch. At right is John Thomas Anthony Nanquil, PLDT SME Nation area sales head. (Photo by Max Limpag)

PLDT #MyNumber launch

PLDT, which is targeting hotels, resorts, and big retail in Cebu for signups to the #MyNumber service, invited 60 companies to last night’s launch at Radisson Blu in Cebu City.

John Thomas Anthony Nanquil, PLDT SME Nation area sales head, said that since Cebu is known as a destination area, the service will help hotels and resorts here get known nationwide.

Roxas said their biggest test case for the service is Jollibee, which picked #87000. By dialing this number, customers, wherever they may be in the country, can get in touch with any of the fast food chain’s branch.

Other brands in Manila that signed up for the PLDT solution picked vanity numbers like #AVIS, #CONDO, #BURGER, #MONEY, #SALES, and #TOBYS. To dial, a customer has only to press according to the placement of the letters in the landline.

PLDT #MyNumber
CEBU LAUNCH. PLDT invited Cebu companies to the launch of #MyNumber. The company said SMEs can tap the service to enhance customer interaction and improve brand recognition. (Photo by Max Limpag)

More customer calls

The #MyNumber service allows companies to receive more calls from clients as PLDT landline calls to the hotline are free of charge, said Roxas. Call costs, covered by the company operating the hotline, include a recurring charge of P10,000 monthly plus P1.00 per minute toll for landline calls and P4.55 per minute for mobile calls. Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun mobile subscribers who call the hotline incur lower per-minute cost for calls compared to the conventional mobile to landline charges.

According to Roxas, a lot of customers still prefer to reach companies through the phone even with the increase in social media usage.

He said that although micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) also use digital means of communication, a landline is still very important in increasing the legitimacy of a business. Aside from giving businesses a competitive edge, the PLDT #MyNumber solution also enables brands to create and maintain their own identities, he added.