Tech Travel

Smart powers Philippine festival season

Tourists and residents joining the various festivals across the country this year can look forward to an enhanced festival experience as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) kicks off the 2020 festival season with the biggest festivals in the Visayas—Sinulog in Cebu, Dinagyang in Iloilo and Ati-Atihan in Aklan.

With various on-ground activities, an extensive LTE network and data offers designed for social media apps, Smart supports local and foreign revelers as they explore the sights, sounds and flavors that are unique to the region, enabling them to share their festival stories and experiences with their loved ones and the rest of the world through their smartphones.

Smart powers Philippine festival season

“Smart has always been a staunch supporter of the country’s tourism efforts, and these activities are part of our commitment to ensure that Filipinos and foreign tourists alike have the best experience during these festivities,” said PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio.

As co-presenter of Sinulog 2020, Cebu’s grandest festival, Smart has partnered with the local government of Cebu City in enhancing the experience of the various activities during the festival. Special activities and festival souvenirs await Smart and Sun subscribers at Plaza Independencia from Jan. 17-19, with a special concert featuring popular Filipino music acts on Jan 18. Smart is also sponsoring the Baladhay Music Festival on Jan. 17, featuring top international artists and local talent.

To enable revelers to share more of their festival experiences, Smart customers are encouraged to maximize Smart’s LTE network by upgrading their SIMs and devices to LTE, and registering to Giga Stories, which includes free Instagram and Facebook access.

Smart powers Philippine festival season

Festival season

Residents and tourists going to Kalibo can also join festivities at the TNT Saya Fest in time for Ati-Atihan, which is popular for its colorful parade of streetdancers wearing tribal headdresses. Happening alongside Sinulog festivities, Ati-Atihan is also held in honor of the Sto Nino.

Visitors touring Iloilo toward the end of the month, on the other hand, can look forward to Dinagyang festivities, which open on Jan 18. On-ground activities, including concerts sponsored by Smart and TNT on Jan. 24-25, are among the festival highlights.

Digital tourism and sustainability

Festival attendees can also explore other tourism spots using the Cebu and Iloilo digital guide apps, which include comprehensive travel information that could be downloaded from interactive tourism markers using one’s mobile phone.

Part of Smart’s #TravelSmart Digital Tourism campaign, the apps feature places to visit, food and activities to try out, and key service and emergency numbers. They also include heritage information, local literature, and cultural trivia.

In line with the PLDT group’s sustainability efforts, Smart is also installing environmentally friendly merchandising and promotional materials and has committed to work closely with the local governments overseeing the festivals in Cebu, Iloilo and Kalibo in the proper disposal of these materials.

Smart powers Philippine festival season

Nationwidest network

As of the third quarter 2019, Smart has increased the number of LTE base stations by 34% compared to end-2018 and deploying these in more areas of the country, including Cebu, Kalibo and Iloilo. Underpinning Smart’s network deployment is the continued expansion of PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which grew by 26% versus end-2018 to more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide. This unmatched fiber infrastructure is a critical advantage for Smart.

For this level of performance, Smart has been cited by independent analytics firms for providing superior network quality. According to Opensignal, Smart provides the country’s Best Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience, and provides superior 4G/LTE availability across the country.

Smart powers Philippine festival season

Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis, also found that PLDT and Smart delivered the country’s fastest fixed and mobile data speeds for the first half of 2019, as they continued to widen their respective leads over their competitors.

The sustained improvement of the PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditures program that includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks.

Events Tech

YouTube, Smart hold first Creator Camp in Cebu

YouTube has partnered with Smart to bring Creator Camp to empower creators outside Luzon to take their content and career to the next level.

YouTube Creator Camp is a holistic acceleration program designed for budding creators in Visayas and Mindanao with at least 10,000 subscribers, providing them with educational, networking, and mobile data resources.

Business Events

New holiday rewards for Smart and SM customers

After its successful run last year, PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc (Smart) has partnered with The SM Store once again to give loyal customers some holiday rewards through the Scratch and Win promo.

Shoppers can conveniently top up their Smart, TNT, and Sun prepaid phones at The SM Store, SM Hypermarket, and other SM affiliates, to get a digital scratch card and get instant freebies. They can also join the raffle for a chance to win one of 800 top-of-the-line Bose speakers.


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 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.

Community Tech

Smart LTE up in more mountain sites in Cebu

More mountain barangays are now enjoying fast, reliable, and affordable mobile internet connection with the activation of Smart Communications Inc. LTE cell sites. The latest is Barangay Linut-od, 24 kilometers from the Argao town center in Cebu, or about an hour by motorcycle on rough road.

Improved connectivity is boosting livelihood, community efficiency and the general wellbeing of residents of this farming and coal mining village.

Seventy percent of households have members living elsewhere, and residents had to move from one place to another in search of a signal just to keep in touch, said former Argao Mayor Stanley Caminero. “So, when Smart fired up its new LTE cell site, people were ecstatic!”

LTE NOW AVAILABLE. LTE is finally in Linut-od, Argao after Smart fired up their LTE cell site in the mountain barangay. Leading the ceremony to mark the availability are former mayor Stanley Caminero (3rd from left) and Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, AVP and Center Head of SMART Public Affairs Visayas and Mindanao.

Contact family members

Among them were farmer Luciano Zamora and wife Lorenza, who see their three grown children only on special occasions. “We are thankful that now the signal is strong even up here in the mountains. We can contact our children anytime, and we don’t even have to leave the house,” said Luciano. It is a comforting thought, in case of an emergency, he added.

Now the couple even get to see their grandchildren, by making video calls using smartphones provided by their children, along with an “allowance” of credit load.

Farmers like Zamora are also learning to search the internet for new and better farming methods, Caminero said. Improved connectivity could also help boost upland tourism through social media, he added.

With better connectivity, families in Linut-od can stay in touch with relatives working far away.

Information dissemination

Councilor Resurreccion Gonzaga of barangay Cabantug said the new technology helps facilitates information dissemination and processing of documents, thus improving efficiency of local government units.

Aside from Linut-od, Smart has also fired up LTE sites in the mountain barangays of Colawin in Argao, and Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City.

LTE can be quickly upgraded to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones. In Cebu, major cities like Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City already have LTE-A sites.

Better connectivity also means peace of mind for Linut-od residents, who can easily contact family especially in times of emergencies.

Fiber backbone

To date, Smart has fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access in the country. Supporting Smart’s mobile network is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, now extending over 259,000 kilometers.

PLDT and Smart’s nationwide network transformation efforts are 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, with the ultimate aim of delivering the best data customer experience.

Linut-od residents can use this improved connectivity to stream videos online and share photos via social media.


Foreign students, travelers have best mobile experience with Smart-Club Cebu alliance

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications and Club Cebu have teamed up to provide the best mobile connectivity experience to foreign students and travelers.

Club Cebu, a leading travel guide and Directory Company for tourists in the province, is bundling Smart SIM cards in its welcome for ESL (English As Second Language) learners.

Cebu is one of the top destinations in Asia for ESL students because of its highly skilled English teachers and less expensive school rates.

Mobile data

The availability of direct flights to other countries plus Cebu City’s proximity to beaches and other tourist destinations make the province an appealing choice for students seeking to learn the English language.

The bundled Smart Tourist SIMs are alloted 300MB data upon activation, and can get an additional 700MB when topped up with at least P30 load within three days. To further enjoy their mobile experience, Smart subscribers can avail of its data-packed prepaid bundles, including the newly enhanced Giga offers, simply by dialing *121# or *123# or texting the respective keyword to 9999.

PLEASANT EXPERIENCE. Alejandro Caeg, Smart Senior Vice President and Head of consumer business for customer development, talks during the signing of the company’s partnership with Club Cebu. Caeg said PLDT and Smart want foreign tourists studying in Cebu to have a pleasant experience by providing them with stable and fast mobile data connectivity.

PLEASANT EXPERIENCE. Alejandro Caeg, Smart Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Business for Customer Development, talks during the signing of the company’s partnership with Club Cebu. Caeg said PLDT and Smart want foreign tourists studying in Cebu to have a pleasant experience by providing them with stable and fast mobile data connectivity.

With Giga Video+ 649, for instance, Smart Prepaid users can enjoy 8GB open access data and up to 1GB or one hour of video access to YouTube, iflix, iWant, NBA League Pass, and Cignal TV per day for 30 days, alongside unlimited texts to all networks and unlimited calls to Smart, TNT, and Sun.

Best online experience

“Though this partnership, students coming from Asia and all over the world will find it easier to stay online, as they continue to learn and explore the wonderful destinations in Cebu and other parts of the Philippines,” said PLDT-Smart senior vice president and consumer business market development head Oscar Reyes Jr.

With Smart, mobile users are assured of the best online experience. Ookla, the global leader in Internet testing and analysis, has recognized Smart as the fastest mobile data network in the Philippines for 2018. Smart has also consistently topped the Mobile Experience Awards of mobile industry analyst OpenSignal since 2017.

Canadian mobile data company Tutela, meanwhile, said in a recent study on the State of Mobile Networks in Southeast Asia that Smart users were twice as likely to experience “excellent” data connections, and Germany-based global benchmark leader P3 also cited Smart for offering the country’s best download speeds.

WELCOME KIT, TOURIST SIM. (From left) Patrick Tang, Smart Vice President and Head of Visayas-Mindanao Regional Marketing; Kecerin Hwang, Club Cebu Chief Editor; Alejandro Caeg, Smart Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Business for Customer Development; and Hoyle Disuanco, Smart VisMin Regional Sales and Distribution Head during the signing of the agreement.

WELCOME KIT, TOURIST SIM. (From left) Patrick Tang, Smart Vice President and Head of Visayas-Mindanao Regional Marketing; Kecerin Hwang, Club Cebu Chief Editor; Alejandro Caeg, Smart Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Business for Customer Development; and Hoyle Disuanco, Smart VisMin Regional Sales and Distribution Head during the signing of the agreement.

Stay in touch

“Our goal is to provide the essentials to our guests—these include mobile services and strong data connection, which they need not only to stay in touch back home and share their experiences online, but also to aid them in their studies. We know for a fact that PLDT and Smart are more than capable of providing these services to them,” said Kecerin Hwang, vice president of C&C Discovery and chief executive officer and editor of Club Cebu.

Under the partnership, Club Cebu student-members will also have a chance to win a trip to Boracay courtesy of Smart. All they have to do is share on their social media accounts their experiences in Cebu as an ESL student and a Smart subscriber. The mechanics of the contest will be announced soon.

Since 2011, Club Cebu has provided invaluable travel information and discounts to tourists visiting Cebu. The agency has partnered with hotels, resorts, malls, and other establishments to provide an enjoyable and hassle-free experience to travelers. It has also collaborated with top ESL schools to help guide foreign students on their journey to learning in the Philippines.

Community Tech Uncategorized

Smart literacy apps named sole Filipino finalist in GSMA’s Asia Mobile Awards 2019

The roster of mother tongue-based literacy apps developed by leading wireless services provider Smart Communications (Smart) has been shortlisted in this year’s Asia Mobile Awards (AMO 2019).

Organized by mobile network operators group GSMA, AMO 2019 serves as the Asia Region’s leading stage for the latest and most innovative mobile products, apps, devices, services and initiatives.

Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia

Smart is in the running for its #LearnSmart Mother Tongue-Based Literacy Apps that were developed in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and academic institutions nationwide. The PLDT subsidiary initiated the local content development program in 2018 as a response to the lack of interactive local content for education and is the only finalist from the Philippines among the 50 contenders shortlisted by the AMO.

#LearnSmart app

The apps are nominated under the category of Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia. Other finalists include edotco Myanmar for Sustainable Connectivity Solution, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies & The 301 Hospital for The World’s First Successful 5G-Enabled Remote Surgery on a Living Human Patient, KaiOS for the emerging OS, KT & UNEP for Air Map Korea, and Mahindra Comviva for AsiaHawala.

The presentation of the Awards will take place at this year’s Mobile World Congress-Shanghai from June 26 to 28, 2019.

First of its kind

The LearnSmart mother tongue-based literacy apps feature lessons on local alphabet and numbers, videos showcasing local stories and songs, and games that help develop a learner’s essential memory and thinking skills. The mobile tools were designed to be interactive to make teaching and learning basic literacy in the local language more interesting and encouraging for both the teachers and the learners.

To-date, Smart has launched nine #LearnSmart literacy applications: Bahay Kubo (Filipino), Kaalam (Cebuano), Ta’allam and Tahderiyyah (Arabic), Matisalug (Matigsalug indigenous peoples Tribe of Davao and Bukidnon), Kaaram (Waray), Katao (Inabaknon), Singsing (Kapampangan), and Sanut (Ilokano). To-date, the suite of apps are the only mobile tools in the Philippines that feature localized educational content. In the case of Matigsalug, it is the first tribal app of its kind in the country, while Tahderiyyah is the first literacy app for the Bangsamoro children.

The main delivery pipeline of the apps is through the Smart School-in-a-Bag program, which are portable digital classrooms that are donated to remote and under-served schools in the Philippines with intermittent to no power. With more than 110 learning packages deployed as of end-2018, over 30,000 students around the Philippines have been given the opportunity to improve their performance in school though Smart’s flagship education initiative.

Aside from School-in-a-Bag beneficiaries, anyone can also download the #LearnSmart apps for free via Google Play.


Game-changing mobile devices and technologies

Prior to being named as a finalist in AMO 2019, the roster of mother-tongue literacy apps was previously awarded by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines with Silver citations at the 54th Anvil Awards. The nods were for Best PR Program Directed at Specific Stakeholders and Best PR Tool – Mobile Application.

Now on its fourth year, the AMOs recognize game-changing mobile devices and technologies, to applications and services developed for, or available in Asian markets, showcasing the ever growing value that mobility brings to users, industries, businesses, communities and economies across Asia’s countries and regions.

Smart’s previous AMO nods include a nomination in 2018 for SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record and referral system spearheaded by Smart and the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center. From 2007 to 2009, the company also won AMOs for several Mobile Money and Advertising-Marketing initiatives, as well as a nomination under the Green Mobile Award for the company’s tarpaulin recycling initiatives. (Press Release)


Smart fires up LTE in Eastern Visayas

PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. is ramping up the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology across the Eastern Visayas to improve the mobile data experience of customers in one of the country’s biggest regions.

Smart LTE is already available across the region’s major cities of Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, and was recently fired up in the Eastern Samar capital city of Borongan, the tourist town of Guiuan, Northern Samar capital of Catarman City, and Western Samar cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan.

For veteran Borongan-based broadcast journalist Daisy Belizar, better connectivity would be a boon to her city, where almost all of the families have at least one member working abroad. “With LTE in Borongan, we will now be connected to the rest of the world,” she said.


This year, Smart will continue upgrading all its Eastern Visayas sites to LTE, as well as add more LTE capacity by deploying multi-band base stations. Doing so will enable Smart to cater to more subscribers and improve speeds with the activation of LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation.

Carrier aggregation is a feature of LTE-A which allows the combination of two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver much faster data speeds to customers using capable phones.

In Eastern Visayas, particularly in Leyte and Eastern Samar, around half of Smart subscribers are already smartphone users, bulk of whom are also already using LTE devices. Compared to a year ago, the number of customers in the region who use mobile data on LTE devices with LTE SIMs has also increased significantly.

Aside from upgrading its existing sites, Smart is also rolling out additional sites in the coming year, particularly to provide seamless network coverage from Tacloban City to Ormoc City and from Baybay to Abuyog, as well as to improve connectivity in heavy foot-traffic areas such as airports in Calbayog, Catarman, Ormoc and Tacloban; in malls and hospitals; and in dense residential and resettlement areas, among others.

World class internet

“With our continuing rollout across Eastern Visayas and in the rest of the country, we are bringing the benefits of world class internet closer to Filipinos nationwide,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.

“Improved connectivity in the region will enable our Waray customers to access services like online banking and e-commerce while on-the-go, stay in contact with friends and family through messaging apps, and share photos and videos of their beautiful beaches and historic spots to help boost tourism in the area,” Tamayo added.

Underpinning PLDT and Smart’s fixed and mobile network roll-out is the expansion of PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network. PLDT’s fiber footprint, now the most extensive in the country at more than 259,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity fiber connections for LTE base stations.

PLDT and Smart’s network transformation efforts are 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, with the ultimate aim of delivering the best data customer experience. (Press Release)


Smart employees, families donate digital learning packages to far-flung communities

English teacher Dexter Masiado has a problem with student absenteeism. Not even half of his 75 pupils at Trangka Elementary School in Maasin, Iloilo attend his classes at any given day.

He doesn’t blame his students, who are composed mostly of indigenous people. To get to school, they need to walk three hours on a mountain path – and that’s on a good day. On rainy days, they need to trudge muddy trails wearing nothing on their feet but plastic. They would arrive at school drenched and shaking.

“A lot of them also forgo classes to help their parents earn a living. Instead of attending classes, they would plough the field, harvest rice, or weave sawali,” Masiado said.

The teacher was thus very happy when he learned that their school would receive a School-in-a-Bag from Smart Communications. This is a big backpack containing a laptop, tablets, TV, a solar panel with batteries, pocket Wi-Fi, and educational content. The package also includes teacher training and yearlong monitoring.

“The students will definitely be more interested to go to school now. They have not yet been introduced to 21st century tools like tablets, laptop, and the internet,” Masiado said.

Smart School-in-a-bag
Smart meets three of its latest School-in-a-Bag recipients. In the photo are Smart employees led by Chief People and Culture Officer Liza Sichon (center) and People Group AVP Cheryll Agsaoay (standing fourth from left), and representatives of Trangka Elementary School in Maasin, Iloilo; Jubilee Shelter Program in Plaridel, Bulacan; and an Alternative Learning System center in Tanay, Rizal.

Previous recipients of the Smart School-in-a-Bag have reported enhanced literacy and heightened interest in learning among their students. One teacher in Albay noted that some of her students would even go to school despite class suspensions so they could learn from the tablets.

The School-in-a-Bag is donated by Smart and its partner individuals and organizations to remote communities, including those without electricity, to help enhance the learning of students through technology and non-tech solutions.

The package that Trangka Elementary School will receive is a donation from Smart employees and their families, who sponsored the P100,000 kit by participating in a program called Smart Saturdays.

For three Saturdays last year, employees were invited to watch blockbuster movies with their loved ones and buy special event shirts for a certain amount. The collected amount was enough to put together seven School-in-a-Bag kits for underserved schools.

“I am really pleased that thousands of our employees participated in the program, not just to enjoy the movies with their families, but also to help other people,” said Smart People Group AVP for Communication and Engagement Cheryll Agsaoay. “I’m proud to say that our employees have taken to heart Smart’s mission of improving the lives of Filipinos through technology. The devices, connectivity, and educational content included in the School-in-a-Bag will help students in remote areas learn more about the world beyond their hometowns.”

Agsaoay added that Smart would continue its Smart Saturdays program to reach more far-flung schools.

So far, Smart and its partner donors have delivered 38 School-in-a-Bag units to 65 learning communities all over the country. Those interested to help can email [email protected] for more details.


Smart wins Grand Prix, Grand Anvil at Oscars of PR

Smart Communications maintained its winning streak at the Anvil Awards, receiving top honors for the third straight year at the Oscars of public relations in the Philippines.

In a ceremony held recently in Taguig, Smart won the Grand Prix Award for having the highest number of Gold Anvils this year. The company also got the Grand Anvil recognition for SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record system that enables health facilities to provide faster and better service to their patients. The Grand Anvil is given to the most outstanding public relations program of the year.

The Anvil Awards has been conducted annually for 53 years by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.

Anvil Awards
ANVIL AWARDS. Smart representatives – led by Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla (center), SVP for consumer business market development Oscar Reyes Jr., and public affairs FVP Mon Isberto – receive Anvil awards last March 23 at Shangri-La Fort.

Smart received Gold Anvils for the following corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, and customer service programs:

SHINE OS+, an open system that allows developers to create plugins addressing the various needs of health workers. Among the plugins created are a system that automates the sending of reminder SMS to diabetes patients, and a plugin that enables nurses in Nepal to collect health surveillance and preparedness data during and after disasters.

Learning as One Nation, an effort to help improve the Department of Education’s Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) program in General Santos and Sarangani. Smart is helping develop an app that teaches Arabic language and values, while promoting independent learning among ALIVE students through the Dynamic Learning Program created by Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido.

School-in-a-Bag, a learning package donated to public schools in remote areas without electricity. The donation includes a solar panel, mobile devices, digital educational content, teacher training, and monitoring.

TNT Tropang Ready Caravan, which inculcates disaster preparedness among college students and encourages them to promote preparedness in their respective communities

Smart Saturdays, a program where employees pay a participation fee to watch blockbuster movies with their families and colleagues. The participation fees are then used to donate School-in-a-Bag units to underserved schools.

Smart Chatbot, a tool on Facebook Messenger that enables Smart customers to view their billing statements and remaining balance, subscribe to promos, purchase eLoad, and request to chat with an agent.

Meanwhile, Smart’s Silver Anvil awardees are Smart Bro’s Bond Like Never Before campaign which encourages parents to use mobile technology to bond with their children, Doon Po Sa Amin Storytelling Caravan which promotes local storytelling for Filipino children, the Paskong Pinoy yearend celebration for employees, the PLDT Group’s efforts to transform its corporate culture to support its digital pivot, the Smart Communities Facebook page which provides information about Smart’s CSR programs, and Smart Millenniors which engages the youth to guide their elders on the use of mobile devices and the internet.

The Silver Anvil list also includes Smart Paywall, a web tool that helps Smart Bro customers avoid unwanted mobile internet charges; Smart TechnoCart, a donation package similar to the School-in-a-Bag that targets more urban communities and contains more devices; the SWEEP (Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program) Awards which encourages students to create innovations solving real problems; the TNT App and TNT Online Store which make it easier for TNT customers to complete transactions; and TNT Tropa Trip, a nationwide summer road show promoting the Choose Your Tropa Apps promo. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Smart powers PH Red Cross-Nokia disaster response solution

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications will provide high-speed connectivity for a drone system that will help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

The drone system, which will operate on Smart’s frequencies during times of emergency, is part of Nokia Saving Lives, a program that aims to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams.

The initiative was showcased in Barcelona, Spain, at the recent Mobile World Congress organized by GSMA, an organization of nearly 800 operators and more than 300 mobile companies all over the world.

Drone system

The system consists of drones, a portable data center, a mobile broadband network, and applications like video streaming, gas sensing, mapping, and analytics, which can help Red Cross responders assess current status of lifelines and analyze immediate needs and gaps. This will enable Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to communities in more timely, effective and efficient ways.

Using Smart’s high-speed LTE connectivity and Nokia’s portable Ultra Compact Network, the system can also create a secure communication between drones, other equipment, and rescue team members.

The drone can be equipped with different types of cameras, sensors and speakers, and can also be used to carry first aid kits. The portable data center, meanwhile, is a computing and storage unit that can be used for immediate data analysis.

Smart, Red Cross, Nokia
PARTNERSHIP. Representatives of Philippine Red Cross, Smart Communications and Nokia meet for the drone project. From left, PRC disaster response and chapter support unit head Archieval Molos, operations center manager May Carol Layugan, Finnish Red Cross country delegate Juan Daniel Reyes, Smart community partnerships’ Joyce Panaligan and Mary Jane Francisco, PRC disaster management services manager Resty Lou Talamayan, Smart community partnerships senior manager Nova Concepcion, Nokia Philippines chief technology officer Timothy Senathirajah, and Nokia Manila Technology Center’s Lawrence Madriaga and Kenneth Pingca.

Improve emergency response

Nicolas Bouverot, head of market unit Asia South, said: “Nokia is committed to using technology to make people’s lives better. With our Nokia Manila Technology Center, we’re honored to collaborate with Smart and the Philippine Red Cross in this disaster management enhancement project utilizing LTE connected drones in Philippines, helping the country improve emergency response, and save lives.”

“We are happy to be part of this project by providing vital communications support for the operations of the drones. This project is in line with our commitment to deploy tech innovations for the benefit of communities, particularly during times of disasters,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.

Smart is one of the three founding signatories of GSMA’s Human Connectivity Charter. The HCC aims to provide increased access to communication and information of for those affected by calamities, helping reduce loss of lives and contribute to humanitarian response.

Since its launch in 2015, HCC has grown to include over 100 mobile operator members and six humanitarian partners across more than 75 countries.

HCC was launched to enable network operators and industry partners to formalize their commitments to enhance their capacity to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to disasters through mobile technology.

Smart, Red Cross, Nokia
Smart will provide connectivity support to Nokia drones, which will be used by the Philippine Red Cross for their humanitarian efforts.

Disaster preparedness programs

Smart’s disaster preparedness programs were cited in GSMA HCC’s annual report in 2016. These programs include Smart’s Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS), which sends out location- and hazard-specific alerts; its ICT Bayanihan series of regional summits to institutionalize emergency telecommunications teams; and the Batingaw disaster management app, which has been replicated in the Horn of Africa. In 2017, the report said Smart had sent SMS and ECBS disaster alerts to 10 million people.

The company has also been a partner of the Philippine Red Cross for disaster response efforts and blood donation drives. Smart has extended support to Red Cross chapters all over the country on various occasions and in times of calamities by providing communications facilities and helping set up first-aid stations, among other activities.

Smart’s support to the Red Cross and commitment to HCC are part of the company’s #SafePH advocacy, which aims to help build resilient communities and reduce disaster-related casualties through technology. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Indigenous students to benefit from localized learning content

Imagine being a child from an indigenous tribe going to school for the first time and finding out that the lessons there are conveyed in languages and stories that are foreign to you.

It is a challenge faced by many IP (indigenous people) students, given the lack of teachers who hail from their own tribes or are knowledgeable of their language and culture.

To help address this, specifically for the benefit of young learners from the Blaan tribe in Sarangani, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications organized workshops for the creation of traditional and digital learning materials in the local language and incorporating local culture. One of the workshops, conducted in partnership with the PLDT-Smart Foundation, also introduced a learning method that would help IP educators effectively handle multiple grade levels at the same time.

Easier to learn

According to the Department of Education, there are 125 IP schools in Sarangani alone, catering mostly to Blaan students.

“It’s better to have stories about the children’s own community so they could relate to these. If you use stories like Rapunzel, they would not understand that. If you use local stories it would be easier for them to learn,” said IP teacher Edna Alicaba.

An elder of the Blaan tribe in Sarangani checks the accuracy of illustrations and learning content created by teachers for young Blaan learners.

She added, “It is so easy to impart knowledge if you use their language. You can’t keep speaking in English if your audience is composed of IP pupils.”

For five days in January, a team of teachers and illustrators learned scriptwriting and storyboarding so they could produce animated versions of Blaan stories and make lessons more fun and interactive. Smart will help put all the content in a mobile app especially made for Blaan learners. The plan is to include sections on Blaan prayers, songs, and greetings, on top of lessons on numbers and letters.

Digital tools

Smart is spearheading the development of learning apps in different languages because studies show that the managed use of digital tools can boost the literacy of young students and heighten their interest in learning. It is for the same reason that the company has donated mobile devices packed with learning content to underserved public schools.

“Nowadays, most of our learners are visual. When they see something, when the process of learning is interactive, it becomes easier for them to learn,” said teacher-illustrator Reynald Dapar.

A separate team of IP teachers were introduced to the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) created by Ramon Magsaysay awardees Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido. Under this method, students learn independently in classrooms 80% of the time by working on activity sheets. The remaining 20% is when the teacher checks on their progress and helps them process what they already learned on their own. Schools implementing the DLP have reported better retention and mastery of concepts among students.

Activity sheets

During the workshop organized by Smart, the IP teachers created learning activity sheets (LAS) in the Blaan language. These activity sheets also featured local cultural elements, and can be used as a template for other learning communities.

Alicaba expressed optimism that the DLP would help teachers perform their duties better. “It is very nice because when you handle three different classes with different grade levels, you can handle them at the same time via parallel classes. While the two classes are working on their activity sheets, you can focus on the remaining class.”

A Blaan student shows off her answers to a learning activity sheet written in her mother tongue.

Battle discrimination

To make sure that the use of Blaan cultural elements and language was accurate, a tribal elder was invited to validate the LAS and illustrations created by the teachers. The materials will also be tested on students before full implementation.

The elder, Fulung Siamen Tumandan, expressed his appreciation for the effort. “It is a challenge to get Blaan children to be interested in studying. Many of them reach only grade school and stop because they want to get married. But slowly, more of them now understand that studying has a purpose and will help their future.”

“Education is very important for us because it will help us battle discrimination,” he added. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Smart Infocast to boost disaster preparedness of Dumanjug

Disaster preparedness efforts of Dumanjug in Cebu will benefit from the SMS advisory platform of Smart Communications Inc., the wireless subsidiary of PLDT.

Infocast, a web-based program developed by Smart, will enable the Dumanjug local government unit to send news broadcasts, weather bulletins, and other critical information to residents via text messages.

The program allows the sending of free text broadcasts and enables registered subscribers to connect with other Infocast members through a common, unique access code, making it an effective emergency communications solution. Crucial information can be sent to all Infocast subscribers, including the municipality and barangay’s disaster risk reduction and management teams.

SMART Infocast Dumanjug
IN DUMANJUG. Members of the local government and disaster risk reduction and management office hold a mock SIM unit during the turnover of Smart Infocast in Dumanjug, Cebu. Joining the ceremony are Smart representatives led by Public Affairs Head for Visayas and Mindanao Atty. Maria Jane Paredes (5th from left).

Enhancing communications

The system has boosted the communication efforts of its many users, which include LGUs, government agencies, and other organizations, according to Smart Visayas-Mindanao public affairs head Maria Jane Paredes.

“Through Smart Infocast, we hope to be instrumental in enhancing both the communication and disaster preparedness efforts of Dumanjug,” said Paredes, who attended the turnover ceremony together with representatives from the municipal office, the disaster risk reduction and management office, and Smart.

DRRM officer Richel Canete said the program would serve Dumanjuganos well. “This is a great help for the Dumanjuganos, especially in the office of the LDRRMO, in broadcasting weather forecast and other forms of disasters and calamities,” he said.

Serve community better

“It is a great tool for our information, communication, and education dissemination. With this partnership, we can serve the community better,” Canete added.

Under its #SafePH advocacy, Smart promotes the use of technology to help mitigate disaster risk in communities. The company has developed other preparedness programs and solutions, such as the Emergency Cell Broadcast System; the Batingaw emergency app; and the TNT Tropang Ready youth readiness caravans, among other projects, in its efforts to reduce vulnerabilities.

Business Tech

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 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)

Business Tech

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 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)

Community Tech

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 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)


Smart posts 1.4 Gbps data speeds using LTE-Advanced

Working with strategy and technology partner Huawei, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications (Smart) achieved test data speeds of 1.4 Gigabit per second (Gbps) using the cutting-edge data capabilities of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

In a series of laboratory tests done this month, Smart successfully combined five frequencies or “component carriers” using Carrier Aggregation, to consistently achieve data speeds in excess of one gibabit per second. Smart joins a handful of leading operators actively testing ultra-high speed wireless data capacity in anticipation of demand for gigabit-level speeds.

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.

Anticipate increasing demands

“Through these tests, we have demonstrated that we are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of mobile broadband customers,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor.

“It will take time for carrier aggregation on five frequencies to be deployed, largely because capable handsets are not yet commercially available. But the excellent results of these tests have encouraged us to roll out LTE-A using two or three component carriers which can already be utilized by several handset models in the market,” Horn said.

LTE-A capable handsets include Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 6s and 7, and Huawei P9.

Smart LTE carrier aggregation
HIGH-SPEED. Huawei product manager Daniel Peng (right) points out to Smart executives Mario Tamayo (standing, left) and Ramon Isberto the consistent, gigabit-speeds achieved by the tests using carrier aggregation. (Smart Public Affairs)

“LTE-A is the sharp edge of our efforts to bring high-speed mobile internet throughout the country through our LTE deployment program. LTE facilities, with strengthened transport links, can be quickly upgraded to LTE-A,” Horn said.

Smart’s efforts to boost its mobile internet capacity are complemented by PLDT’S ongoing deployment of fiber and high-speed DSL fixed line technologies which are also capable of delivering one-gigabit speeds.

Live network in Boracay

Last April, Smart fired up the country’s first LTE-A base stations in the resort island of Boracay. Combining three component carriers, where Smart achieved peak speeds of 250 Mbps on a single-user basis in a live network.

Today, Smart’s network on the island involves a multi-band LTE setup combining the low-band 850 MHz frequency and the high bands 1800, 2100, and 2300 MHz frequencies. This delivers average speeds of more than 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

LTE-A base stations will soon be activated in major urban areas such as Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila. This is part of Smart’s three-year plan focused on expanding LTE coverage, to bring high-speed internet service to 95% of the country.

Accelerating LTE deployment

“We are accelerating our LTE deployment because this provides us the platform to deliver faster, more reliable, and affordable internet services throughout the country,” added Horn.

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

This new roll-out plan includes the use for LTE of the 700 MHz frequency band that Smart obtained access to under a co-use arrangement as a result of the acquisition of the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) by PLDT and Globe Telecom last May.

In addition, Smart is also using the low-band 850 MHz frequency to expand its LTE coverage. Lowband frequencies like the 700 and 850 MHz have longer range and better indoor penetration. These enable Smart subscribers with compatible phones to have strong and stable internet connectivity in more areas, even when indoors. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Do you want to build Android apps? Learn how through TESDA-Smart online course

Aspiring developers can now learn how to build Android mobile applications at no cost, via an online course available on the website of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The course, developed by mobile leader Smart Communications, can be found on

Enrolling is fast and simple. Users only need to create an account on the website, then type the code SWAD in the search bar. This will lead them to the course titled Smart Android Mobile Apps Development for Beginners.

SMART Tesda Android course
VIDEO TUTORIAL. Smart’s Ron Ramos discusses how to set up the Android development environment in one of the many video modules that form part of Smart’s online course on building Android apps in the TESDA website.

Video modules

The course is comprised of 11 video modules, each running for 10 to 24 minutes. The lectures are delivered by a member of Smart’s IT team.

Users can learn at their own pace. They can replay videos, and even pause a video and come back to it at a more convenient time.

Nearly a thousand people have enrolled in the course, some of whom have given positive feedback.

Improve IT education

“This online course is a great opportunity especially for people like us who work and don’t have time to attend some classes due to schedule conflicts. This really helps me a lot. Just by sitting in front of my laptop for one to two hours, I gain more knowledge,” said Marrian Vedua.

The free apps development course is part of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program or SWEEP. This is a long-running program aimed at improving engineering and IT education in the country. Because of SWEEP, Smart was recently cited by international magazine Fortune as one of 50 companies that have “changed the world.”

More information on Smart’s corporate social responsibility programs can be found on the Smart Communities Facebook page. (Press Release)


Smart nominated as CSR company of the year

PLDT mobile unit Smart Communications is shortlisted by the prestigious Asia CEO Awards for the Corporate Social Responsibility Company of the Year.

The Asia CEO Awards recognizes outstanding leadership achievements by individuals and organizations in the Philippines. The CSR award is for the company with the best projects on environmental protection and awareness, livelihood, and youth development.

Winners will be announced in a ceremony on October 18 at the Marriott Hotel Manila.

Smart CSR’s 5 pillars

Smart’s CSR program draws its strength from partnerships with communities, and aims to use technology for development. It has five pillars, namely education, disaster preparedness and response, health, environment, and livelihood.

Among its programs is the Smart TechnoCart, which aims to improve the literacy of kindergarten students in public elementary schools through online and mobile educational resources.

Each donated TechnoCart is 2ftx2ft tall and contains 20 tablets for students as well as a laptop, projector, tablet, and pocket WiFi for the teacher. The tablets are preloaded with the Batibot mobile application, the country’s first app for kids in Filipino aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

Smart school in a bag
DIGITAL AID TO EDUCATION. Children from a remote community in Rizal see a laptop and other digital tools for the first time, after Smart donated a School-in-a-Bag to their school.

Improved students’ performance

Since June 2015, the TechnoCart has reached 30 schools with 246 classes and 6,173 students. Independent evaluation showed that the TechnoCart has helped improve students’ academic performance in various competencies.

Smart together with its employee volunteers have also been conducting tree-planting activities nationwide since 2003. Smart employees have planted more than 2 million seedlings and propagules for mangroves with the help of community stakeholders and volunteers from partner organizations.


Other activities aligned with Smart’s environmental pillar include reducing electricity consumption, recycling batteries, and exploring environmentally sound solutions like marketing materials made from stone and recycled paper.

Smart has also partnered with the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, and USAID-ECOFISH for DALOY, an SMS hotline enabling concerned citizens to inform the police about maritime violations. It has generated 95,468 broadcast messages, and has resulted in 25 arrests and the seizure of more than 4,000 pieces of contraband worth nearly $135,000. (Press release)