Smart Satellite Services link Tacloban, network restoration in full swing

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Monday, November 11, 2013


AS RESTORATION of network facilities in areas hard hit by super typhoon Yolanda are underway, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) has been able to commence Libreng Tawag free calls services in Tacloban City using satellite services in partnership with Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF).

“Tacloban is one of the most devastated areas in the Visayas with power and regular communication lines still down. Smart, as part of the Emergency Communications Cluster helping the government, flew in twice yesterday satellite and other telco equipment,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.

For its Libreng Tawag station in Tacloban City, Smart is using TSF's BGAN, the world's first mobile communications service to deliver broadband data and voice, simultaneously, through a single portable device via satellite.

Smart Satellite Services, meanwhile, utilizes technologies like the SatSleeve which can transform an iPhone to a portable satellite unit to its Marino Phone Pal units.

The free call station was held at the police station near the city hall and started yesterday afternoon until evening. The service is expected to resume today at the city hall premises.

Smart with TSF will continue to provide satellite voice and data communications for the responders and affected residents.

The same range of satellite services have been extended to various institutional partners and local government units to expedite post-disaster response coordination.

Smart Satellite Services and TSF's BGAN are now being used by the following: Office of Civil Defense Region 8 Operations Center, Department of Social Welfare and Development, AFP Central Operations Center; Cebu Provincial Ofc; Phil Air Force; Phil Red Cross; Oxfam Philippines; and TV5. Meanwhile, SatSleeves are also now being used by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.

Meanwhile, Smart and Digitel Mobile Philippines (DMPI) through its brand Sun Cellular (Sun) continue to extend Libreng Tawag services today to the public at the City Plaza in Ormoc City and in Tubigon Community Hospital in Potohan, Tubigon, Bohol.

The public may also proceed to the San Francisco municipal hall in Camotes, Cebu c/o NTC-7, the Smart Retail Store in Ormoc City and the Smart cell sites in Roxas City proper and Sta. Fe in Cebu for free charging of mobile phone batteries.

Updates will be provided as more free calls and mobile phone charging stations are opened.

Yesterday, Libreng Tawag stations were made available in certain areas in Iloilo, Masbate and Mindoro.

Smart has also been working closely with institutional partners and LGUs in post-disaster response and has provided much-needed communications support.

Various assistance such as airtime load, SIM units, devices and broadband connectivity including Smart LTE were extended to NTC7 in San Francisco, Camotes, Cebu; Mindoro Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO); Iloilo City DRRMO; Dumaguete City DRRMO; Red Cross National Operations Center; Office of Civil Defense Region 8 Operations Center in Palo, Leyte; Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office in Legazpi City; and Cebu Province DRRMO.

Meanwhile, restoration of Smart and Sun networks in areas most affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda are now in full swing.

Sunday morning, network services have been restored in the following areas: Cabulihan, Maasin in Southern Leyte and the municipalities of Matalom, Bato, Hilongos, Macrohon and Hindang in Leyte; San Carlos, Negros Oriental; Bantayan Island, Cebu; Calatrava, Negros Occidental; Dimiao, Bohol; Badiangan, Ajuy-Culasi, Cabatuan, Anilao, Banate, Maasin, PD Monfort, Janiuay, Sta. Barbara, Leganes, Barotac Nuevo, Pavia, San Miguel, Dumangas, Alimodian, Sta. Barbara, Tiwi, Barotac Nuevo, Mina, Dingle, Zarraga, Pototan in Iloilo, and all of Masbate except for Mobo, Cataingan, Palanas, and Pio V. Corpuz.

Network services have been operational since yesterday in Ormoc City in Leyte as well in the following areas in Western Samar: Calbayog City, Calbiga, City of Catbalogan, Daram, Gandara, Jiabong, Macrohon, Matuguinao, Paranas(Wright), San Jose de Buan, Santa Margarita, Tarangnan, Villareal.

“We're doing our best to normalize operations in most areas. Lack of commercial electricity still remains a big challenge. While Smart has already started dispatching additional generation sets to augment local power, in some areas like the coastal towns of Leyte and Eastern Samar, transporting fuel and equipment is not as easy as roads still have to be cleared,” said Isberto.

Because of the post-disaster effects of the Typhoon Yolanda, subscribers of Sun in the Visayas are encouraged to use the Smart network to boost their network signal by doing the following: go to their phone settings, choose Operator selection, choose Manual, and select SMART. Then return to Automatic mode. This can be used for call, text and data services.

This will allow subscribers to use the Smart network while network enhancements for Sun are ongoing. The same rates and rules apply as if the subscriber is on the Sun network.

This service for Sun is available in the following areas in the Visayas; Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Siquijor, Southern Leyte, Leyte and Western Samar. Queries can be directed to Sun Hotline 200.

Smart and Sun subscribers can use text facilities to donate to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. For donations to the Philippine Red Cross, subscribers can text RED and send to 4143. Ex: RED 100. Denominations accepted are for PhP10, PhP24, PhP50, PhP100, Php300, PhP500 and PhP1000.

Text donations via the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) Brick by Brick YolandaPh fund raising initiative.Just text TulongPH and send to 4483 (Ex. TulongPh 25). The same denominations as for Red Cross applies. Donations via PayPal and Smart Money can be done through the PDRF Brick by Brick site (www.pdrf.org/brickbybrick).

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 11, 2013.

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