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Smart, Sun restore cellular services in Tacloban and other sites, offer continuous Libreng Tawag

by SMART Public Affairs | Nov 11, 2013
[11 November 2013/ 1200H] - Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has restored cellular coverage at the downtown area of Tacloban City as of yesterday as part of its efforts to support emergency relief operations efforts of the government and humanitarian agencies. Two more areas in Tacloban City are expected to have network coverage by end of day. Subscribers of Sun Cellular of Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) in the area have also been provided access to the Smart network to boost their signal.

Smart extends communications support to volunteer rescue unit. PLDT and Smart Technology Services Head Roland G. Pena (leftmost) and PLDT Alpha Enterprise VisMin Head Jimmy Chua (2nd from left) turn over satellite phones using Smart Satellite Services and load to representatives of the Cebu-based Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) for its disaster response efforts in Samar and Leyte.

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has restored cellular coverage at the downtown area of Tacloban City as of yesterday as part of its efforts to support emergency relief operations efforts of the government and humanitarian agencies. Two more areas in Tacloban City are expected to have network coverage by end of day. Subscribers of Sun Cellular of Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) in the area have also been provided access to the Smart network to boost their signal.

Immediately after Typhoon Yolanda hit the city, Smart Satellite Service was deployed and continue to augment the communications needs in the area. Through Smart’s partnership with Thuraya Satellite, fixed satellite phone and satellite sleeves that can transform iPhones to satellite units have been deployed. Access to the Internet has been made available to select agencies through BGAN satellite technology.

Since Saturday, Smart has been offering Libreng Tawag in Tacloban City. Free calls and texts are being offered to residents at the Libreng Tawag station at the VNG Subdivision and at the PLDT Office using Smart Satellite Services. Another Libreng Tawag Station is ongoing at the police station near the Tacloban City Hall in partnership with humanitarian organization Telecoms Sans Frontieres.

“While Tacloban City still suffers from total power outage and damages to communications infrastructure, Smart has been working closely with the national government in providing rapid deployment and restoration of facilities. This is just the start and we expected more sites to be up in the next days as our engineers work round the clock to ensure that people and communities can be connected. Meanwhile, our Smart Satellite Services continue to provide vital communication links to key agencies involved in post-disaster response in many areas.” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.

Network restoration for both Smart and Sun Cellular is underway in other areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda with more teams and equipment deployed.

“Close cooperation with public and private groups are critical in situations like this. We appreciate the immediate assistance provided by various government units like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in transporting our equipment.” added Isberto. Smart is part of the country’s Emergency Communications Cluster led by the NDRRMC.

Libreng tawag services are also ongoing Tubigon Community Hospital in Potohan, Tubigon, Bohol; Smart Retail Store and city plaza in Ormoc City; and Smart cell site in Sta. Fe, Cebu; and Cultural Center of Bantayan Island, Cebu.

Yesterday, Smart offered free calls to the typhoon victims in the middle of the Tacloban Grandstand’s football field and another one at the Ormoc Airport using satellite phones.

The public can also proceed to the following sites to charge the batteries of their mobile handsets: Smart Sta. Fe cell site in Cebu; Municipal Hall in San Francisco, Camotes, Cebu; Smart cell site at Old Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan; Smart cell site in Roxas City proper, and Smart Retail Store in Ormoc City.

While most are on manual mode due to massive power outage, Smart and Sun stores in the Visayas region are open to the public for customer concerns except for the Smart Stores Tacloban City and Gaisano in Roxas City and Sun Shops in Robinsons Tacloban, Ormoc, Gaisano Roxas and Catbalogan.