SMART Communications, Inc. (Smart) is set to further expand and upgrade its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on Boracay island to empower tourists, residents and local businesses in the Philippines’ premier tourist destination.
Smart is the wireless subsidiary of PLDT Inc.
Since the island’s reopening after rehabilitation, the local government’s thrust has been for sustainable tourism in Boracay.
Among the local businesses benefiting from improved connectivity in Boracay is The Boracay Women’s Producer Cooperative (BWPC).
Maker of Pinay Boracay specialty soap shampoo, tea, and other organic products, BWPC used to struggle to spread the word about their items. “Today, thanks to social media, more people now know about us and our products,” said general manager Angelyn K. Roda.
Technology has played a significant role since BWPC’s early days. Chairman Desiree Segovia first had the idea of making soap after watching a video on Youtube.
“We use social media and chat apps like Messenger to promote our products and to talk to our customers,” said Roda.
“Whether we want to watch videos on Youtube, post photos on Facebook or send messages on Messenger, Smart has really helped us a lot in our business,” Roda said.
The island has seen the return of tourists, among them travel blogger Finn Snow, who has been based in the Philippines for the past two years.
“I first learned about the Philippines through social media and Youtube,” said Snow, whose travel vlogs feature both popular tourist spots like Boracay as well as lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path places like Balabac in Northern Palawan.
A Smart subscriber, Snow said his phone has been his lifeline over the years. “The internet plays a huge part in my work. If I can’t upload, I can’t work,” he said. “With Smart, I can upload videos and answer emails—just through my phone.”
Local biz boost
As more local and foreign tourists return to Boracay, local shops on the island have begun feeling the boost in their earnings.
Sheila Mae Oczon, who works at G&C Medicine Center, said sales are brisk at their pharmacy, especially since they also sell load aside from medicine. “When the island was closed for rehabilitation, we had only a few customers. Now that it’s open again, more people now come to buy medicine and load from our store,” said Oczon.
Oczon said they serve both local and foreign tourists. “With the internet more accessible, tourists can easily share the beauty of Boracay to the world,” she said.
According to the company, Smart has already deployed LTE to 83% of its Boracay sites to date. Of these LTE sites, 80% have been further upgraded to LTE-Advanced, which gives customers an even faster mobile data experience, it adds.