For residents of Pilar, Camotes Island, a fishing town located more than 50 kms east of Cebu City, connectivity is crucial to keeping their town afloat.
“The primary livelihood of people here is fishing, and connectivity enables fishermen and dealers to communicate with each other,” shares Vita Gopela, a longtime Pilar resident who operates a loading station in the town. “And if it weren’t for connectivity and the Internet being available to us here in Pilar, our life would be much harder because of the pandemic,” she added.
With a Smart cell site in their community keeping them connected to the rest of the country, Vita and the residents of Pilar can weather the challenges of COVID-19.
As the country’s largest integrated telco, PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are at the forefront of efforts to revive the country’s economy through providing quality connectivity to towns like Pilar, Camotes.
“Connectivity being a primary necessity puts telcos in a good position to help our country, and the whole of Asia, get back on their feet,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, at the recent Asia CEO Forum Economy Update 2021. “PLDT and Smart, being the only integrated telco in the Philippines, have the upper hand, with entailing responsibilities to offer a range of products and services to our countrymen today and post-COVID.”
The exponential rise of digital users in the Philippines, the top country in terms of time spent on the Internet, has led to higher demand for broadband services–both in quantity and quality.
“For a good user experience, a broadband connection must be both dependable and fast. It cannot be just one or the other,” Panlilio stressed, saying that PLDT has continuously invested in modernizing its fixed infrastructure as well as expanding its fiber across the country, including unserved and underserved areas.
“We are no longer just a telco or data service provider. What we have is a real partnership with our customers. We offer various platforms that allow Filipinos to keep in pace with the times and accelerate their own digital transformation – eLearning, telecommuting, e-commerce and e-health – changes that affect individuals, families, businesses and government simultaneously,” he said.
At the forefront of 5G revolution in PH
Panlilio also highlighted the rise of 5G, which is quickly gaining momentum, not just in the Philippines but worldwide. As 5G pioneer in the Philippines, Smart was the first to roll out its commercial 5G service last year, and has fired up more than 1,700 sites nationwide, the most extensive 5G network in the country to date.
“To enhance 5G customer experience, we deployed high-performance 5G capacity and coverage features. Our subscribers are now able to enjoy the super-fast data service of Smart 5G across the archipelago,” Panlilio said.
As 5G trailblazer, PLDT and Smart were also the first in Asia Pacific to deploy 5G Carrier Aggregation and first to test 5G Standalone, which introduces the massive IoT and ultra-reliable low latency services.
“On the business side, 5G promises to be the most stable foundation for enterprise growth and progress. We are enabling 5G and IoT as the innovation platforms to empower our enterprise customers in the Philippines to compete in the global digital marketplace. For our consumer segment, 5G opens the door to an even higher level of customer experience in terms of enjoying high-definition video, playing esports and using new digital services,” Panlilio added.
Panlilio said that with their strong foothold in innovation, PLDT and Smart are in the best position to influence progress by committing to bring out the best in Filipinos–an effort that goes beyond connectivity.
“Beyond connectivity, we commit to being active enablers by inspiring Filipinos to find purpose in everything they do and live smarter for a better world. We champion change and empower our customers to act upon their passion and ability to make a difference, to subscribe to great and not settle for just good,” he said.
“We constantly devote time and efforts in imagining, inventing and investing in the future – and ensure that we lead through digital disruption rather than simply reacting to it,” he said. “This goes beyond the confines of our organization as we understand our significance in rebuilding our nation.”
These initiatives form a large part of PLDT’s capital expenditures, which totaled P460.7 billion in the last ten years. To address the growing data needs of their fixed and wireless customers, PLDT and Smart are prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion in capital expenditures in 2021.