Community Tech

Stronger signal improves life in mountain barangays of Cebu City

From being able to quickly call for emergency vehicles to bring patients to bigger hospitals to being able to receive orders for flowers, residents of Barangay Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City say their lives have improved with the stronger cellphone signal in their area.

The two mountain barangays that are an hour’s drive from the central Cebu City business district now have better connectivity after Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) turned on 2 4G LTE cell sites in the area.

With the improved signal coverage, residents can now tap mobile services to improve their lives and boost their livelihood and businesses. Vital facilities like schools and hospitals also benefitted from the improved connection.

Smart LTE Cebu City
IMPROVED SPEEDS. The connectivity in Barangay Bonbon, a mountain barangay in Cebu City.


Emergency communications

Fr. Peter Necesario, parish priest of St. Niño Parish in Guba, said that with stronger signal, they no longer feel isolated, especially during emergencies.

“In times of emergencies such as storms, it is easier for us to communicate and be updated about the weather through the internet,” Fr. Necesario said.

He added that Guba is a strategically located barangay with a community hospital and church, so communications is very important.

Resident Gemma Sandigan, 40, said that the better mobile phone service helps them address the needs of the community, especially on health care. Her father was the former head of Guba Community Hospital. Since the community hospital is small, it can’t cater to complex medical procedures and has to refer patients to bigger hospitals. However, there are times when no vehicles are available to transport the patients.

LTE Cebu City
LTE CONNECTION. The improved connectivity allows residents of Barangays Guba and Bonbon to tap online services like live streaming of community events.


Contact family members

“With better signal, we can call for vehicles and ask for help in transferring patients to bigger hospitals faster,” Gemma said.

The activation of 2 new cell sites is part of a larger rollout plan covering several more mountain barangays of Cebu City at the request of Mayor Tomas Osmeña. The city government plans to deploy new services for these communities that require improved mobile phone coverage and data services.

For Gemma’s mother, 62-year-old Emerlisa Veloso, the benefits are personal. She is thankful for the stronger signal because she can now contact her children who work away from home.

“Before, we really have to get out of the house just to get signal. Now, we can just stay indoors to contact my children. This is a huge help,” Veloso said.

In terms of education, better signal also means improved learning.

Research, school work

For 14-year-old Grade 8 student Faith Mae P. Tabal, communication with teachers and classmates for school-related activities has become easier, now that she can use LTE for research and other school work.

In Barangay Bonbon, meanwhile, farmers are reaping the benefits of good signal and data connection.

Flower farmer Donyo Tapia, 71, said that the better Smart signal has helped him a lot with his flower deliveries.

“Stronger signal is a huge help. They (customers) can just call us when they order flowers. Even if we don’t have the flowers, we can still look for them,” he said.

Tapia also said they have the phone numbers to the local market and the customers can now call them for orders anytime and anywhere.

LTE in Guba, Bonbon, Cebu City
STRONGER CONNECTION. The new LTE connectivity allows students in Barangays Guba and Bonbon to use the internet to research and to link up with family, friends, and classmates.


Strong signal anywhere

“We can make sure to deliver flowers immediately, especially rush orders, now that the signal is stronger. Unlike before when we still have to go to higher places just to look for signal. It was hard. Now the signal is very strong anywhere,” he added.

Another thankful resident of Barangay Bonbon is 50-year-old micro-entrepreneur Marites Cabos. Upon experiencing stronger signal for calls and LTE for mobile data, she now sells Smart SIM cards in her store.

“Before we didn’t have network signal from Smart, now we finally have it. We are very thankful because this is a huge help for us here in Bonbon, especially because our children live far away. Now I am also a retailer here because the signal is faster. The LTE data (signal) is now very fast here in Bonbon,” she said.

Over 80% of cell sites across Cebu now have LTE.

This continuous expansion of LTE services across Cebu is part of efforts to provide the best mobile data experience across the country.

LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable 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.

LTE in Guba and Bonbon
IMPROVED LIVES. The stronger Smart signal in Barangays Guba and Bonbon have improved the lives of people in the community.


Award-winning network

Smart has also already 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 within three years from the grant of the use of frequencies by the NTC in 2016.

Smart has increased its total LTE base station count across the country by 65% in the first three quarters of 2018. PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network, the country’s most extensive fiber network at 221,000 kilometers, meanwhile, provides high-capacity fiber connections for these LTE base stations.

For these continuous network upgrade efforts, both PLDT and Smart have been cited by third party firms for being the country’s fastest networks. Earlier this year, PLDT and Smart were cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. Mobile analytics firm OpenSignal has also consistently cited Smart for having the country’s fastest LTE network for its past four study rounds.

Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex was expected to reach P58 billion.

Community Tech

Disaster preparedness, response in communities boosted via tech, partnerships

Communication services, technological innovations and partnerships with various organizations—these factors have helped communities all over the Philippines bolster disaster preparedness and response efforts.

As the Philippines faced typhoons, volcanic eruptions and other hazards in 2018, several communities weathered the storm with the help of solutions initiated by PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications.

As part of its #SafePH advocacy, Smart ensured the availability and quick restoration of its services in areas hit by calamities. These areas include Albay, which was affected by the eruption of the Mayon Volcano; Benguet and other provinces in the Northern Luzon, which bore the brunt of Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut) and “Rosita” (Yutu); and other areas all over the country that experienced heavy rains, strong winds and floods.

Smart disaster response Ompong
A resident from Benguet (left) uses the free charging station put up by Smart and Vodafone Foundation at the Typhoon Ompong command center in Itogon.


Free calls, charging, Wi-Fi

In areas where communication services were limited because of damage to infrastructure and power lines, Smart offered libreng tawag (free calls), charging and Wi-Fi services to both affected residents and responders.

Smart also forged cooperation with international organizations to further enhance its emergency communications services and enable these solutions to serve more communities.

When Ompong hit Northern Luzon and triggered a deadly landslide in Benguet, Vodafone Foundation teamed up with Smart to provide emergency solutions for those affected by the typhoon. Smart and Vodafone set up free charging and Wi-Fi stations at the command center and the retrieval site in Itogon for the use of both responders, evacuees and family members of landslide victims and others in need of assistance.

Nokia drone disaster response
Representatives of Smart, Nokia and PRC during the drone and network solutions presentation. They are (from left) Thomas Eder (Nokia), Leonardo Ebajo (PRC), Ramon Isberto (Smart), Nicolas Bouverot (Nokia), Christina Cabrera (Nokia), Elizabeth Zavalla (PRC), Colin Von Hardenberg (Nokia), Ana Mariquina (PRC), Dullip Tillekeratne (GSMA) and Alvin Ilano (Smart).


Nokia drones

Nokia also tapped Smart to be its connectivity partner for a program that employs drones and network solutions for disaster response. The Nokia Saving Lives program seeks to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams. In the Philippines, Smart will provide high-speed connectivity to the drone system to help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

For its pioneering and collaborative system, the Nokia Saving Lives project received funding from GSMA, the organization representing mobile operators globally. Early this year, GSMA selected Nokia Saving Lives as a recipient of its Humanitarian Innovation Grant.

On the local front, Smart joined forces with the academe and local government units to help bring disaster preparedness closer to the youth. Through its TNT brand, Smart brought its Tropang Ready disaster preparedness caravans to more state colleges and universities all over the country. TNT Tropang Ready aims to train the youth and their friends (tropa) on disaster preparedness. With their agility and technological know-how, the youth are best suited to mobilize their communities in times of calamities.

The Tropang Ready program recently won in the Community Engagement category at the prestigious Golden World Awards, which recognizes public relations practices that meet international standards of excellence.

Smart Vodafone response Itogon
Vodafone volunteers (in red) get help from Itogon residents as they set up the free charging and Wi-Fi stations for responders and affected residents near the area hit by landslide in Barangay Ucab.


TNT Tropang Ready

Since 2016, the TNT Tropang Ready program has covered more than 10,000 students and school personnel in more than 10 state colleges and universities nationwide. Joining the roster of Tropang Ready schools this year are the following universities: Holy Name University in Tagbilaran, Bohol; University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City; Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, and Mindanao State University in Marawi City. The students were trained to cascade their learnings to their extension communities, bringing the lessons to more residents and amplifying its benefits.

Smart Naga landslide free calls
A resident of Naga, Cebu, uses Smart’s free calls service to contact a relative following the landslide that hit their community.


Smart also extended support during nationwide earthquake drills by providing various emergency communications facilities, allowing residents and responders to experience first-hand the solutions that are available to them as the need arises. The drills were held in San Mateo, Rizal; Davao City; and in various locations all over Metro Manila.

As Filipinos gear up for 2019, Smart also recognizes the importance of being prepared for the year ahead. Smart continues to ensure the reliability of its services and, in times of distress, offer communications as relief, as part of its commitment to a #SafePH. (Press Release)


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

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

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


Among top global operators

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

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

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

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

Powerful platform for solutions

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

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

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

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

Powered by PH’s most extensive fibver network

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

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

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

Community Tech

Communities benefit from Smart’s disaster preparedness, environment programs

To serve more communities in the areas of disaster preparedness and environment, Smart Communications (Smart) expanded its existing programs, launched new ones, and developed solutions in 2017.

Building a #SafePH

Smart aggressively rolled out its TNT Tropang Ready Caravan learning series to state universities from Northern Luzon to Mindanao in order to empower the youth in mobilizing their communities in times of disasters. Tropang Ready schools to date include Batangas State University, Bulacan State University, Southern Leyte State University, University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines–Cagayan de Oro, University of Baguio, Isabela State University, Eastern Visayas State University and public and private educational institutions in Ormoc, including St. Peter’s College. Plans are underway to encourage more schools to become Tropang Ready in 2018.

Smart Tropang Ready
TROPANG READY. A student learns how to use a fire extinguisher during the TNT Tropang Ready “Training of Trainers” disaster preparedness and emergency management activity organized by Smart at Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban City in November.

Smart also enhanced the capability of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) by turning over to the agency the Emergency Cell Broadcast System. ECBS issues quick location- and hazard-specific alerts using a channel separate from that used by calls and text messages, which may get congested in times of calamities. This makes ECBS an effective warning system during disasters.

Republic Act No. 10639 or The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act mandates all telecommunication services providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities. Smart acquired the latest cell broadcast platform, investing P400 million, to effectively comply with this law.

The Philippines faced a number of natural and man-made hazards this year. Batangas, Leyte, and Surigao del Norte were affected by earthquakes, while several areas in the country experienced flooding and landslides due to typhoons. Marawi was also besieged with conflict that displaced most of its residents. In these trying times, when access to communication could get limited, PLDT and Smart offered communication services as aid, allowing residents to reconnect with their loved ones and get information on where to avail of basic necessities and state services.

Libreng Tawag, Charging Stations

Services offered include Libreng Tawag and Charging stations, free calls and texts in affected areas, SMS and pocket Wi-Fi credits to responders, and the Infocast SMS facility, which enables authorized users to disseminate information to registered subscribers.

PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto emphasized the importance of staying connected in times of disasters. “Communications is vital in any emergency situation,” he said. “As a telecommunications company, our primary job is to keep the network running so that we can provide continuous emergency communications services.”

Libreng Tawag
A Libreng Charging Station was set up in Barangay Linao in Ormoc following the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte in July.

Through its ramped-up network expansion program, Smart ensures that customers will have uninterrupted wireless coverage even during emergencies, and that nearby cell sites have the capacity to compensate for the affected ones.

Smart also provided anew emergency communications support during the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drills held in Cebu, Davao and Cavite. The services deployed include multi-equipment on wheels (MEOW) portable cell sites, ECBS, free calls and charging, satellite communications, and the SOS Dispatch solution, which enables LGUs to monitor, record, and dispatch reported incidents while keeping responders connected in near real-time.

Meanwhile, the Batingaw disaster management app, a project by the NDRRMC, Tudlo developers group, and Smart, was replicated in the Horn of Africa. It was adopted in Kenya as an early warning tool during their national elections, and for disaster risk management, with the high probability of El Nino in the region.

Smarter, greener earth

Harnessing technology to protect the environment, Smart teamed up with technology partners to deploy solutions in forests and critical habitats. The company is working with Ericsson to implement the Connected Mangroves project in Bangkung Malapad, Sasmuan, Pampanga. This IoT (internet of things) solution will use Smart’s wireless connectivity to capture data relevant to mangroves’ survival such as water level, humidity, soil moisture and temperature, and other hazards in the environment.

Connected Mangroves
CONNECTED MANGROVES. This mobile phone screen shows the interface of the Connected Mangroves dashboard, which may be accessed at The website shows information that has been recorded from the sensors attached to the mangroves.

Smart is also collaborating with startup Instigators Inc. for the Biosentinel environment monitoring system, which will be deployed in Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve. The system has three components: the web dashboard; the app, which can be used by forest patrollers; and the analytics data software.

The company is also steadfast in its commitment to protect the Marikina watershed by expanding livelihood assistance to the communities working to rehabilitate the protected area.

Smart will continue to provide communications support and work with the government and other partners in building better prepared and environmentally sustainable communities. (Press Release)


RDRRMC lauds Smart efforts during Cebu earthquake drill

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Central Visayas recently recognized Smart Communications (Smart) for its services and efforts instrumental to the successful conduct of the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill in Cebu.

During the drill, Smart deployed its multi-equipment on wheels and free calls assistance via satellite phones; provided connectivity via LTE SIM cards to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and Wi-Fi courtesy of PLDT to the Cebu Provincial Capitol; and disseminated preparedness and safety tips via LED ads within the city.

SMART earthquake drill

The photo shows Smart Public Affairs Visayas-Mindanao Head Atty. Maria Jane Paredes and Public Affairs Manager NN Navarro (second and third from left) receiving the plaque from Department of Science and Technology VII Regional Director Ed Paradela (left) and Office of Civil Defense-Central Visayas RD Connie Ornopia, during the National Disaster Resilience Month culmination and awarding rites held in Cebu City.

Through its #SafePH advocacy, Smart has been supporting various government initiatives aimed at cultivating a culture of preparedness among Filipinos.


Smart soon to offer P1 per minute call to any network

Smart subscribers will soon have more reasons to stay in touch with friends and loved ones as the mobile leader is set to roll out Smart Express Call 50, which offers calls to any network for as low as P1 per minute.

Smart Express Call 50 will provide subscribers with 50 minutes of all-net calls, valid for 3 days, essentially bringing down the cost of calling your family and friends on any network to only P1 per minute. Smart subscribers will be able to enjoy Smart Express Call 50 as an add-on to top Smart Prepaid offers, boosting Smart’s already feature-packed data, call, and text promos.

Also for postpaid subscribers

The P1 per minute all-net call rates shall also be made available for Smart Postpaid subscribers who may enjoy the rates on top of their existing plan.

TNT and Sun shall also roll out similar offers, allowing users to conveniently boost their existing TNT and Sun promos with 5 minutes of all-net calls for only P5.

The upcoming offer is in line with Smart’s thrust to provide Filipinos with meaningful connections through innovative mobile products and services.

Smart Express Call 50 will provide subscribers with 50 minutes of all-net calls, valid for 3 days, essentially bringing down the cost of calling your family and friends on any network to only P1 per minute.

Catch-up calls

With Smart’s lowest all-net call rates at only P1 per minute, subscribers are set to enjoy greater flexibility, allowing them to keep their loved ones within reach – whether to check on everyone’s activities, confirm an item on the grocery list, or just relay an important concern when the need arises – without having to worry about the cost.

It will also allow users to keep their bond with friends stronger and more personal through frequent catch-up calls and random chats, and set aside work-related worries because they could easily reach out to colleagues for any pressing matter.

Once rolled out, Smart Express Call 50 will also come in very handy such as when there is a need to relay directions to an Uber driver, confirm details with a local Airbnb host, or reach out to top establishments via their mobile numbers.

Watch out for the launch of Smart’s lowest all-net call rates by following Smart’s official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Press Release)


Smart named Anvil Company of the Year anew

For the second straight year, Smart Communications won the Company of the Year citation at the Anvil Awards, after receiving the highest number of Gold Anvils for its public relations programs.

Smart received 17 Gold Anvils and seven Silver Anvils in a ceremony organized recently by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. On its 52nd year, the Anvil Awards is considered the Oscars of public relations in the country.

Smart Anvil award
Smart employees celebrate their Anvil awards haul.

Smart’s winning programs sought to make the mobile internet experience more accessible, affordable, and meaningful to Filipinos; use technology to enhance education, disaster preparedness and response, health services, and customer experience; and engage the workforce better through digital technologies.

Gold Anvils

Winning Gold Anvils were the AlDub for TNT campaign, Batibot app, Batingaw app for disaster preparedness and response, Smart’s efforts to train Filipinos on Android app development for free, the Disaster Communications Summit, the Smart Flagship Store, Smart’s Gamified Mobile Learning Program, GigaSurf50 campaign, Launchpad, the My Smart website and app, Paskong Pagsaluhan event for employees, Smart TechnoCart and School-in-a-Bag, Smart BROkada Road Trip, Smart Roamer app for Filipinos abroad, Sun Deserve Mo ‘To campaign, and the internal social media site for Smart employees called Workplace by Facebook.

Smart won Silver Anvils for the My Smart launch, the compendium of videos on Smart’s mobile education programs, #OwnIt video, SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), Smart Bro Plan 799 campaign, Sun First Job Problems campaign, and the Welcome Change campaign. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Smart’s Batibot app nominated for global award

The Batibot mobile application co-developed by Smart Communications has been shortlisted for the Best Mobile Innovation for Education or Learning citation of the prestigious Global Mobile Awards.

The digital version of the beloved Filipino children’s show is the first app in the Filipino language that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education. It was designed to develop literacy among children aged 2 to 6 through fun games and interactive features. The app can be downloaded for free on Android devices.

Smart Batibot app
Teachers find the Batibot a useful classroom tool, as it is aligned with DepEd’s kindergarten curriculum.

Driving innovation

The Global Mobile Awards is organized by the GSMA, an international association of mobile operators, to recognize companies and individuals that are driving innovation in the rapidly evolving mobile industry. Entries are judged by world-leading independent experts, analysts, journalists, and academics. Winners will be named in a series of awarding ceremonies to be held in Barcelona, Spain in February.

Developed in collaboration with the Community of Learners Foundation and OrangeFix, the Batibot app features games like “Alin ang Naiba,” where children are presented with a group of objects and are asked to identify the item that does not belong to the group.

Kids can also practice tracing letters on their device, sing along to Batibot songs via the app’s videoke feature, and watch stories in Filipino.


The app also teaches other basic concepts like matching, sorting, shapes, colors, and numbers.

The Batibot app is preloaded in tablets donated by Smart to public schools all over the country, as part of digital learning packages called the Smart TechnoCart and School-in-a-Bag. These are among Smart’s efforts to use technology to develop different sectors in society.

Since its launch in August 2015, the Batibot app has had close to 400,000 installations.

Smart Batibot
Kindergarten students can use the Batibot app to learn basic concepts like the alphabet.

Feedback from teachers, parents, and an independent evaluator showed that the app improved students’ academic performance, increased their interest in learning, and decreased absenteeism.

The Batibot app also lessens the need for teachers to tap into their personal funds to create audio-visual aids for their classes.

For more information on Smart’s initiatives to use technology to enhance learning, please visit (Press release)

Business Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

Robust network, multi-platform

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

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

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

Extensive Miss Universe coverage

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

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

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

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


Smart GigaSurf50 offers 1GB data for P50

Smart Communications has unveiled the country’s first 1GB data offer for only P50. Valid for 3 days, GigaSurf50 also comes with an additional 300MB for streaming on sites like YouTube and iflix.

To subscribe to this latest offer, simply text GIGA50 to 9999.

Smart said the new offer empowers subscribers to ride the digital wave and enjoy more data, video and music right at their fingertips.

Bigger and better digital lifestyle

“With the country’s first 1GB offer at only P50, Smart is truly changing the way Filipinos enjoy their mobile phones for a much bigger, better and richer digital lifestyle,” said Katrina Luna-Abelarde, Smart Wireless Consumer Operations Head.

“This huge data offer allows you to go bigger on your passions – whether you are an info junkie who likes to surf all the time, a social media butterfly with constant updates on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, or a music and video buff who likes streaming on sites like YouTube and iflix, among many others.”


Pasadata with GigaSurf50

GigaSurf50 is also big enough for subscribers to share with others through Pasadata, Smart’s innovative feature that lets subscribers pass on a chunk of their data to friends and loved ones. To share part of your GigaSurf50, simply text PASADATA <Recipient #=””> <Amount>MB and send to 808.

With GigaSurf50, you can go beyond your usual mobile Internet activities, from speaking your mind on the latest trending topic on Facebook and Twitter, watching the latest viral videos on YouTube, and binge-watching your favorite movies and series on iflix.

GigaSurf50 also lets you record more of your day’s best moments on Snapchat and Instagram, share more of your latest musings on your personal blogs, and connect more with your groups on Messenger, Viber and Whatsapp, among many others.

Bridging gaps and breaking barriers

GigaSurf50 follows a string of awesome products and services that Smart launched since it refreshed its brand last June 13 to show a stronger commitment in empowering Filipinos to live a digital life without barriers.

Smart recently launched its P1,288 Prepaid Smartphone kit to offer the most value-packed big-screen smartphone in the country today, meant to break barriers for many Filipinos to own a smartphone. Smart also recently unveiled its Smartlife app, a breakthrough digital discovery portal that lets subscribers enjoy exclusive daily perks, movies, music and games at their fingertips.

Network boost nationwide

All these new products go hand in hand with Smart’s rapid LTE deployment and network expansion to deliver faster, more reliable and affordable Internet services throughout the country.

To keep updated with Smart’s biggest offers, follow its official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Business Tech

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

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

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

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

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

Massive effort to transform network

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

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

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

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

Initial rollout in Cebu, Davao, Manila

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

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

Expanding coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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


Enjoy mobile games, videos at breakneck speeds via Smart LTE-Advanced

Bigger, faster, better.

This is how unrivaled mobile services leader Smart Communications is changing the way Filipinos are enjoying their favorite apps, games and videos on their smartphone with its recent launch of the country’s first LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service in the renowned island of Boracay in Aklan.

Using a capability called “carrier aggregation,” which combines two or more radio frequency bands in order to deliver bigger bandwidth and faster data speeds, Smart’s LTE-A services has posted speeds of up to 250 Mbps, allowing users to download and upload huge files in seconds, stream movies and music seamlessly, and play their favorite games on a LTE-A capable device – such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 – without any hiccup.

Smart LTE-A Launch
Smart’s LTE-Advanced site in Boracay – the first of its kind in the country – offers blazing speeds of up to 250Mbps on a LTE-A capable device such as the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Technology forefront

“LTE-A is like being able to put together two or more separate highways in order to create a wider highway through which vehicular traffic can flow more freely and at a much faster rate,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT and Smart chief technology and information advisor.

“With the introduction of our LTE-Advanced service, the next stage of development of 4th generation of mobile technology, Smart is again at the technology forefront, setting the bar higher for mobile service and changing our customers’ digital experience for the better.”

“This is a milestone for Filipino mobile users, whose lives are constantly changed for the better by Smart’s mobile innovations and services,” said Smart Wireless Consumer Operations Head Kat Luna-Abelarde at the launch.

Future of mobile Internet

“Smart has brought the future of mobile internet experience here and now, sparking a fundamental shift in our lifestyle and the way we pursue our passions, connect, and celebrate life-defining moments with our family and loved-ones.”

This latest development also goes hand in hand with Smart’s push for a richer digital experience through super-sized data and compelling device offers, which cater to the growing appetite of Filipinos for mobile videos, games and music.

“LTE-A, along with our continuing efforts to improve existing network technologies, strengthen our efforts to give our subscribers the best internet services and mobile video experience.”

SMART LTE-A LAUNCH. Representatives of Smart Communications and technology partners Samsung and Huawei toast to the deployment of the country’s first ever Smart LTE-Advanced service in Boracay island. In the photo are (from left) Samsung Electronics Rhinn Piczon, Smart Broadband Head Pamela Santiago, Smart Consumer Broadband Marketing Head Gary Dujali, Smart Infinity Head Julie Carceller, Samsung Electronics Minsu Chu, Smart Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT & Smart Chief Technology & Information Advisor Joachim Horn, Smart Brand Head Kathy Carag, Smart Network Portfolio Management Senior Supervisor Christopher Alzona, PLDT & Smart Network Services Head Mario Tamayo, PLDT Chief Operating Advisor & Board of Directors Member Tadashi Miyashita, Huawei Account Director for PLDT Jerry Li Zhichao.
SMART LTE-A LAUNCH. Representatives of Smart Communications and technology partners Samsung and Huawei toast to the deployment of the country’s first ever Smart LTE-Advanced service in Boracay island. In the photo are (from left) Samsung Electronics Rhinn Piczon, Smart Broadband Head Pamela Santiago, Smart Consumer Broadband Marketing Head Gary Dujali, Smart Infinity Head Julie Carceller, Samsung Electronics Minsu Chu, Smart Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT & Smart Chief Technology & Information Advisor Joachim Horn, Smart Brand Head Kathy Carag, Smart Network Portfolio Management Senior Supervisor Christopher Alzona, PLDT & Smart Network Services Head Mario Tamayo, PLDT Chief Operating Advisor & Board of Directors Member Tadashi Miyashita, Huawei Account Director for PLDT Jerry Li Zhichao.

Enhance network

Since the start of the year, Smart launched the country’s hottest device deals such as the P888 handset with free data and load rebates and, even more recently, the P888 Pocket WiFi – making it easier for Filipinos to discover the real-life benefits of online connectivity.

To deliver a super-sized mobile Internet experience to subscribers, Smart has also doubled its data offer for Big Bytes 50, which now comes with 700MB – up from the previous 350MB – for surfing and streaming plus 650MB for YouTube, YouTube Gaming and iflix – valid for 3 days, still at P50.

Apart from deploying the country’s first LTE-A service, Smart has also been working on its 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE networks to enhance network resiliency and quality of data services to deliver the best possible digital experiences for subscribers nationwide. (Press release)


Smart, offer Sinulog guidebook for free download

(Update: The Sinulog guidebook can now be downloaded in this page. We now have a Sinulog Guide Android app version as well as a Sinulog Guide mobile website for other devices. )

The country’s wireless leader Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) and Cebu-based website have produced an electronic guidebook on the Sinulog for the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android phones and tablets and other tablets, e-readers and smartphones.

A Guide to Sinulog 2012 will be made available for free download at the Mactan Cebu International Airport through quick response or QR code scanning, USB download or e-mail distribution. Tourists and balikbayans can get a copy of the guidebook as soon as they arrive in Cebu for Christmas vacation or the Sinulog festivities.

A Guide To Sinulog 2012
A Guide to Sinulog 2012 will be made available for free download at the airport, Ayala Center Cebu, malls, hotels, restaurants, resorts and the offices of the Sinulog Foundation and Department of Tourism. The guidebook can be read on the iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and phones, Kindle and various other tablets, smartphones and e-readers. Shown above are the guidebook’s editions for the (from left) iPad, Kindle and Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The Sinulog guide will also be made available for free download through partners Ayala Center Cebu, Department of Tourism Central Visayas, and the Sinulog Foundation. The ebook will also be available in hotels, resorts and other tourism establishments in Cebu.

A Guide to Sinulog 2012 is part of a groundbreaking project on Cebu tourism that will be launched in historic Barangay Pari-an on December 20.

The group will also produce an ebook compilation of winning entries of the Sinulog photo contest that will be released next year.

Unlike websites, ebooks can be read in various devices even without an Internet connection.

“This is part of our efforts to support the DOT and the Cebu local government in the promotion of tourism in Cebu. Through digital and social media, we can showcase our heritage to more people around the world through locally generated content.” said Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, senior manager for Public Affairs Group, Smart.

A Guide To Sinulog 2012 demo on the iPad editor Marlen Limpag and Lourdes Gocotano of Smart Public Affairs Vis Min demo the iPad edition of A Guide To Sinulog 2012, an ebook that can be viewed on tablets, smartphones and ereaders. The guidebook will be offered for free download at the airport, Ayala Center Cebu, malls, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourism establishments in Cebu. Looking on is Sinulog Foundation executive director Ricky Ballesteros (left).

“Most travelers nowadays bring along tablets, e-readers or smartphones. An electronic guidebook would be very useful to them because they no longer need to carry around heavy books, including those that devote merely a chapter on Cebu or the Sinulog. You just download it once and you can read it anywhere and at anytime, even without an Internet connection.Our guidebook is an extensive resource that you take with you wherever you go,” said Marlen Limpag, editor.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind project. It’s a unique resource that would help our guests make the most of the biggest festival in the Philippines,” said Sinulog Foundation Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros.

The Sinulog guide contains helpful articles and tips on Cebu’s grandest festival. It contains the complete list of cultural and religious activities.

It also lists establishments near the procession and grand parade route where tourists can stay. It also contains offline maps of the procession and grand parade routes that readers can view even without an Internet connection. The ebook, however, also provides a link to a frequently updated and interactive online map that people can view if they are connected to the Internet.