PLDT-Smart donates 10K SIMs to DepEd Cebu City

PLDT-Smart turned over 10,000 LTE SIM cards to the Department of Education Cebu City, the biggest ever donation to the academe in the region, as their way of supporting teachers and students in over 50 Junior and Senior High Schools under DepEd Cebu City in the “New Normal.”

The unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic has pushed the academe to adapt to the new normal in education and conduct classes via online or modular delivery. The Smart SIM cards will allow students and teachers to go online and connect to the internet via Smart LTE.

Continue reading “PLDT-Smart donates 10K SIMs to DepEd Cebu City”

Cebu retailers ‘shine’ through pandemic, PLDT-Smart revives livelihood in communities

From small-time retailer to store owner, Shine Macapas has managed to shepherd her small business to success despite the pandemic.

A sari-sari store owner and Smart load retailer from Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, Macapas’s business has been so good that she was inspired to extend a helping hand to loyal customers who are struggling through the health crisis. “I let them buy essential goods on credit. It may be a small thing, but I hope it helps ease their burden,” she says.

Continue reading “Cebu retailers ‘shine’ through pandemic, PLDT-Smart revives livelihood in communities”

Smart widens gap vs. competition on 4G Availability, wins Opensignal’s first 4G Coverage Experience Award

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), wireless arm of the Philippines’ largest integrated telco PLDT, has once again surpassed competition in terms of 4G Availability, Video Experience and Download and Upload Speeds, according to the latest country report by third-party mobile analytics firm Opensignal.

The report, which covered July 1 to September 28, 2020 and independently analyzed over 1,186 million measurements from over 336,000 devices, also showed that Smart won Opensignal’s inaugural 4G Coverage Experience award–a measure of how mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator’s network. It analyzes the locations where customers of a network operator received a 4G signal relative to the locations visited by users of all network operators.

Continue reading “Smart widens gap vs. competition on 4G Availability, wins Opensignal’s first 4G Coverage Experience Award”

PLDT ramps up e-learning initiatives for the new normal

For 33-year-old Daisy Jane Diola of Cebu City, there could not be a better time to go back to school, betting against all odds in a pandemic. Giving up her sales job, she embraced technology and started attending online classes, one of hundreds of thousands nationwide now braving the challenges of e-learning in the new normal, and benefiting from local partnerships with PLDT, the country’s biggest and only integrated telco company.

“I am new to this kind of setup, but I am always open for new learnings,” Diola shared. “I am thankful for all the support we have been getting, especially our connectivity devices.”

PLDT, its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges and universities nationwide, as well as tech giants Microsoft and Google to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector.

Continue reading “PLDT ramps up e-learning initiatives for the new normal”

DOT, Grassroots Travel, Smart join hands to mount Kulinarya sa North Cebu Webinar

Smarter tourism in the new normal

In the Philippines, Culinary Tourism and Farm or Agritourism have been identified by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as two of the niche markets it would like to tap and promote.

It is for this reason that the DOT, Grassroots Travel, and PLDT-Smart recently organized a two-day webinar entitled “Community-based Kulinarya sa Norte” to develop culinary and farm tourism at the municipal level. The webinar also aimed to enhance skills and knowledge of local stakeholders in culinary tourism, and to create economic opportunities for the communities they serve.

Continue reading “DOT, Grassroots Travel, Smart join hands to mount Kulinarya sa North Cebu Webinar”

PLDT, Smart, Cignal, and PayMaya offer biggest discounts yet on National Heroes Day weekend

Customers of PLDT, Smart, Cignal TV and PayMaya will receive exclusive discounts at SM during the National Heroes Day weekend on August 28 to 31, 2020.

Up for grabs in all SM malls nationwide are discounted prices for prepaid load bundles, data cards, Smart Bro and PLDT products and services — such as the Double the Data Promo of PLDT Home FamLoad.

Continue reading “PLDT, Smart, Cignal, and PayMaya offer biggest discounts yet on National Heroes Day weekend”

Basilan school shows the way in distance learning

Once a thriving trading center in Mindanao, Basilan has had a troubled history in the last half-century, marked by clashes between the military and Moro secessionists and attacks by terrorist groups. But while communities are constantly displaced, residents brave hardship and strive to survive.

Now faced with yet another challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic, Basilan reaffirms its resilience, particularly in education.

As schools and teachers nationwide prepare for the shift to blended and distance learning, the Concepcion National High School (CNHS) in Basilan is simply building on lessons drawn from years of teaching in times of crisis.

Continue reading “Basilan school shows the way in distance learning”

Smart 5G goes live

5G handsets available, 5G coverage in key CBDs

Starting July 30th, the 5G mobile phone network of Smart Communications is going live as a commercial service.

In this initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers will be able to enjoy the super-fast data service of Smart 5G in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.

These areas include the Makati Central Business District (CBD), Bonifacio Global City CBD, Araneta City, SM Megamall and Mall of Asia Bay Area. Smart 5G is also being rolled out in key high-traffic areas such North Avenue in Quezon City and Taft Avenue in Manila, as well as in Ortigas CBD, and Clark Green City in Pampanga.

Continue reading “Smart 5G goes live”

PH among countries with most improved Video Experience: Opensignal

With most Filipinos staying at home during the community quarantine amid COVID-19, veteran chef Rose Marie Lim of Cebu’s Caro and Marie, one of the country’s longest-running baking and culinary schools, turned to video to stay connected with cooking and baking aficionados both here and abroad.

Through a cooking and baking video series on Facebook, Chef Rose has been able to share Filipino recipes not just with Filipinos outside Cebu, but with a worldwide audience.

“You don’t have to be a master chef for to prepare simple dishes for your family and friends. And if you’ve never cooked or baked since birth, now is the time to try it! Just watch my videos!” she said.

Continue reading “PH among countries with most improved Video Experience: Opensignal”

Smart-backed Dynamic Learning Program to benefit DepEd ALS Butuan’s ‘second-chance’ learners

Riding a motorcycle to different learning centers in hinterlands, sustaining the attention of distracted learners, and handling a multi-grade classroom are just some of the challenges that Alternative Learning System (ALS) mobile teachers face every day. The COVID-19 health crisis has made it even tougher for them, as they had to look for ways to continue teaching their learners remotely.

To help the Department of Education (DepEd) – ALS of Butuan City continue teaching in the new normal, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) conducted an online workshop on the implementation of the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP). 49 mobile teachers and education program specialists joined the first run of the virtual training, dubbed as DLP In Action.

Continue reading “Smart-backed Dynamic Learning Program to benefit DepEd ALS Butuan’s ‘second-chance’ learners”

Smart network expansion keeps data services resilient amid COVID-19

Opensignal: 4G Video Experience in PH “resilient” during the pandemic lockdown

Quarantined in a barangay isolation center in Brgy Luz, a COVID-19 hotspot in Cebu City, educator Roy Genares turned to the Internet to lift the morale of his fellow COVID-positive patients.

A principal in a mountain school in Cebu City, Genares hosted nightly movie viewings for the adults and senior citizens and watched LearnSmart e-storytelling sessions with the kids.

“It was challenging for us to hold these activities, but with the help of the internet and social media, we were able to pull it off,” he said.

LearnSmart e-storytelling sessions became nightly movie viewing.

As more Filipinos turn to video and other data services amid the COVID-19 crisis, PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) continue to expand and upgrade their fixed and wireless networks across the country, despite challenges presented by the imposition of community quarantine.

We are regaining the momentum of our sustained network roll out efforts over the past five years which have placed us in a strong position to cope with the surge demand for data services during the COVID pandemic.

Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and Chief Executive Officer

Network roll out

“In the first month after the lockdown was implemented, our network teams faced movement restrictions and we also had to take safety precautions to protect the health of our employees and our customers,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and Chief Executive Officer.

“But we have since made adjustments and have stepped up our network roll out and maintenance activities. We are regaining the momentum of our sustained network roll out efforts over the past five years which have placed us in a strong position to cope with the surge demand for data services during the COVID pandemic,” Panlilio said.

“By May 2020, we were almost back to pre-ECQ levels. We did this by carefully deploying our people in the field to do physical installations and upgrades and combining this with systems upgrades done remotely,” said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering for PLDT and Smart.

Educator Roy Genares held nightly viewing of Smart’s e-storytelling sessions at their isolation center in Barangay Luz in Cebu City.
Educator Roy Genares held nightly viewing of Smart’s e-storytelling sessions at their isolation center in Barangay Luz in Cebu City.

Resilient networks

The beneficial impact of these continuing expansion efforts have been confirmed by independent third-party firms like Opensignal, which published a recent analysis about the resilience of mobile networks in the Philippines amid the Covid-19 emergency.

“In the Philippines, video has been a big driver of data consumption, and with measures such as the General community quarantine (GCQ) and Enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in response to Covid-19, Filipinos are consuming videos on Youtube, Netflix and other online streaming services more than ever, putting the mobile networks under pressure,” Opensignal’s Hardik Khatri wrote.

“As operators in the Philippines reported a dramatic surge in data consumption, we found that the quality of the video streaming experience over 4G connections was resilient,” Opensignal said.

The study, which covered the period Sept. 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, showed that while 4G Video Experience in March declined by 7.2% in urban areas and 14.7% in rural areas, “the typical 4G Video Experience in the Philippines ranges from Fair to Good, which suggests that the mobile operators have been able to cope well during these extraordinary times.”

Opensignal examined the mobile experience in urban and rural areas in the National Capital Region, North and Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

4G Video Experience

Between September 2019 and February 2020, Opensignal noted that 4G Video Experience had improved in a majority of the regions, with rural users in Mindanao seeing the biggest improvement (23.3%) and urban users seeing the highest improvement of 9.1% in the NCR.

In March, when the government imposed restrictions due to COVID-19, Opensignal observed a decline in 4G Video Experience across all regions. “However, urban areas saw much smaller changes than rural regions indicating greater resilience,” Opensignal said.

“Despite the downturn described above, users in the Philippines continue to enjoy a Good 4G Video Experience (55-65 on a 100 point scale) in the NCR, and a Fair 4G Video Experience (40-55) in the remaining regions regardless of whether they are based in urban or rural areas,” Opensignal noted.

STORYTELLING. PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto in one of the LearnSmart e-storytelling sessions.
STORYTELLING. PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto in one of the LearnSmart e-storytelling sessions.

Increased appetite for video

To better support Filipinos’ increasing appetite for video, social media, gaming and other online activities, PLDT and Smart have continued to expand and upgrade their fixed and wireless networks across the country.

As of end-March, Smart increased the number of 4G/LTE base stations to 26,000, up 6% from end-2019 and 60% more than end-2018. PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which supports Smart’s network by providing high-capacity links to LTE base stations, is now at 338,500 kilometers nationwide, 5% more than end-2019 and up nearly 40% from end-2018.

In April, Smart further increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 2G base stations of Smart have also been providing additional capacity for its LTE network.

Independent data referenced with consent from Opensignal, Mobile networks in the Philippines are more resilient in urban areas than in rural during the crisis, May 2020.

Smart offers best mobile experience in all categories in Cebu: Opensignal

Smart cited for Best Video Experience and Best Games Experience, among other awards

Smart Communications, Inc. offers the best mobile experience in Cebu and swept seven mobile experience award categories in the April 2020 Mobile Network Experience Report for the Philippines by independent mobile analytics firm Opensignal.

For its independent analysis, Opensignal collected 659 million measurements from 288,492 devices across the Philippines from November 1, 2019 to January 29, 2020.

Continue reading “Smart offers best mobile experience in all categories in Cebu: Opensignal”

Parents and kids tune in to eStorytelling Sessions of DepEd, Smart for online learning

Spending time together while listening to entertaining and educational stories is becoming a nightly habit for parents and children following the eStorytelling Sessions of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).

Launched in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and The Storytelling Project, and aired live every 8:30pm on the Smart Communities Facebook page, this is Smart’s way of bringing the magic of stories into people’s home through technology.

Continue reading “Parents and kids tune in to eStorytelling Sessions of DepEd, Smart for online learning”

Technology aids Cebu group feeding COVID-19 frontliners

In Cebu City, professional chefs have joined hands with private individuals and businesses to combat the COVID-19 crisis in their own way: Through nourishing frontliners with good, clean and fairly priced food.

However, with the Enhanced Community Quarantine in place, they have been unable to meet physically. But this has not stopped the Cebuano group from continuing their advocacy. Instead, they have harnessed the Internet and wireless connectivity to gather more partners for their campaign.

With the support of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), Cocina Collective’s campaign #FoodForFrontliners has been able to nourish Cebu’s COVID-19 frontliners with nutritious and delicious meals prepared by volunteer chefs.

Continue reading “Technology aids Cebu group feeding COVID-19 frontliners”

Smart increases LTE capacity nationwide

With Internet usage rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. is further upgrading its mobile data service by boosting the capacity of its 4G/LTE network throughout the country.

This month, Smart is reallocating its assigned 1800 MHz frequencies from 2G to 4G/LTE. This shift will impact on a large share of Smart’s LTE sites throughout the country and will increase the volume of data traffic that these facilities can handle.

Continue reading “Smart increases LTE capacity nationwide”

DENR, Smart, Huawei join hands to save Philippine rainforests

Mobile phones can now help save endangered rainforests of the Philippines.

In a landmark initiative, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PLDT wireless unit, Smart Communications, and Huawei Technologies Philippines (Huawei), are collaborating to pilot test an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that taps mobile technology to detect and record rainforest sounds that can help prevent illegal logging and poaching activities in the country’s rainforests.

The solution has been successfully deployed in five DENR-designated areas in Palawan which is recognized as the “last ecological frontier” of the country.

Continue reading “DENR, Smart, Huawei join hands to save Philippine rainforests”

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.

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.

Continue reading “YouTube, Smart hold first Creator Camp in Cebu”

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.

Continue reading “New holiday rewards for Smart and SM customers”

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.