Of Road Works and Smart-A A +A
My Palm Notes
Friday, March 22, 2013
THEY are welcome development but they compromise safety.
I can’t help but notice the lack of signs that would duly warn motorists of construction along Macarthur Highway, particularly in northern Mabalacat City. DPWH should compel its contractors to place sufficient warning signs (lighted, reflectorized, well in advance, readable) on the on-going re-blocking and widening.
In most cases, motorists would – all too suddenly – find themselves facing either an on-coming vehicle (because of counter flow or narrowed highway) or they have to swerve right away to avoid construction equipment, workers and debris.
Worse, there are no sufficient road barricades that would protect motorists from slipping onto a foot-high diggings and gaps. In some areas, one would be lucky to find that a thin rope was placed and hanging precariously for the purpose. Seldom do I also see anyone from the contractors’ men to pre-position themselves to assist in traffic flow. I think their contracts with the government require them to put all these safety measures in place.
I also do not get the rationale behind intermittent construction where contractors dig up holes and scrape existing pavement on certain sections only to move to another portion without completing what was started in the former place. I am not an engineer and I do not fancy myself to be one but I think I know what unfinished jobs are, especially those that cause traffic and accidents.
At the main entrance of Barangay San Joaquin, for example, about 20 meters (or half of the entrance) of that passage was not completed, leaving motorists and residents to deal with dust, sand and top soil that was used to cover the unfinished portion. I think it’s also the same case for nearby Barangay Dolores.
Contractors should also work faster. There are days that I would see no one working on areas that were either already blocked to traffic or where existing pavements have already been cracked open. Perhaps DPWH inspectors should be more visible at these construction sites just so contractors would hasten up these civil works to required specifications and schedule.
While this writer is thankful that DPWH has finally implemented a rehabilitation of that section of Macarthur Highway (after writing so many column articles about its destruction), the agency and its contractors should also put high premium on safety of travelers, motorists and the general public.
They can do that by placing sufficient warning signs several meters ahead and ample protective measures while people traverse portions where there is on-going construction.
They need not wait for lives or limbs get lost to effect these measures.
SMART IS FASTEST. I could only pity a colleague who has gotten himself an iPhone 5 from another telco. He says that whenever he switches on his LTE (Long Term Evolution), his phone “really slows down” and he could hardly get a good internet connection.
Well, that defeats the purpose of LTE, also known as 4G. Well, too, that is not the case I get with SMART. I also use an iPhone5 and whenever I utilize my cellular data for internet, I get faster connections under LTE/4G mode.
Just to give you an example, latency would easily go down to two digit level from three digit if still under 3G. I would also get download speeds up to 7 mbps and upload of 3 mbps. And I am only talking about LTE connections inside Clark Freeport. It is a lot faster in Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities. At this kind of speed, my video calls to friends and family remain uninterrupted and no freeze. I could also attach huge files to my emails without having to wait for sunset.
While I’m awaiting completion of LTE connections in the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat under the optimization program of this telco, this undertaking is part of the P38-billion modernization initiated by PLDT - its parent company.
Ashley Manabat, a fellow columnist, is also too happy for his LTE connections with SMART. In one of our road trips, he tested the technology and has found it really the fastest.
With over 54,000 kilometers of Fiber Optic Cables (FOCs), SMART, together with PLDT boasts of the Philippines’ most extensive FOC network. PLDT is adding 5,000 more kilometers of fiber this year.
Unlike traditional copper wires which use electricity to transmit data, FOCs use pulses of light allowing for quick and lossless uploads and downloads.
Very soon, LTE connections and offers would be made available to home and office use as SMART begun testing a different version of this technology with so-called Time-Division Duplexing (TDD).
SMART recently conducted preliminary tests in cooperation with network equipment provider Huawei. The test facilities were able to achieve speeds of 40-60Mbps via an LTE SIM-equipped router.
WiFi-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops were then able to experience LTE speeds by logging on to the local wireless network.
TDD-LTE also makes possible high definition video streaming and lag-free online gaming because of its speed and low latency.
Other countries that are adopting TDD-LTE include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Malaysia, Oman, Russia, Taiwan, the Bahamas, China, and India.
The widespread adoption of TDD-LTE -- especially in the U.S., China and India -- is expected to help bring down the cost of network equipment and customer terminals significantly.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 23, 2013.