PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are partnering with the local government of Lipa City in Batangas to fast-track the city's journey toward becoming a 'Smart City'.
Under this partnership, PLDT and Smart are ramping up the rollout of fast, reliable and fiber-powered Smart WiFi in Lipa's hospitals, schools and government offices, as well as extending connectivity support to the LGU's pandemic response and vaccination program.
To date, WiFi sites are already available at the Lipa District Hospital, National High Schools of Bulacnin, San Isidro, Fernando Air Base, Pinagtongulan, Lodlod, Anilao and Bolbok, Lipa City Science Integrated High School, and Lipa City Senior High School.
Meanwhile, PLDT and Smart are rolling out additional WiFi sites across Lipa, including the City Hall, Ospital ng Lipa, Lipa Public Market, Lipa Academy of Sports, Culture and Arts, Abundio Torre Memorial School, GB Lontok Memorial School, Tambo Elementary School, and Inosluban Integrated School.
Smart has also donated 12,000 Smart 5G-ready SIM cards, smartphones with load to support the LGU's contact tracing activities, and pocket Wifi for the connectivity needs of Lipa's vaccination program.
Smart has also previously fired up Smart Infocast, a web-based text broadcasting solution, in Lipa City to assist the LGU in disseminating information to Lipa citizens.
"Smart has always been there for Lipa. When the Taal Volcano erupted, Smart was there to help. They supported our contact tracing efforts with smartphones and load, distributed face masks and alcohol throughout the pandemic, and now they are providing connectivity for our vaccine rollout. They have also rolled out WiFi in key public places here in Lipa, including our schools. Lipa is very fortunate to be in this partnership," said Lipa City Mayor Eric B. Africa, who led the partnership ceremonies attended by PLDT and Smart representatives led by Smart FVP and Regional Head – Consumer Sales Group John Y. Palanca, PLDT Enterprise AVP and Corporate Relationship Management Head Dennis G. Magbatoc and Smart VP for Consumer WIFI & Mobile Advertising Allan Nikko G. Galvez.
Africa also highlighted the role of connectivity in leveling up Lipa into a truly progressive global city. "This pandemic has really taught us the importance of connectivity. This is especially true for our students, who need connectivity so that they can continue their online learning. It is not enough to have the gadgets, one must also have a strong connection to be able to maximize them," he said. "Today, if you're not connected, it feels like you are in the Stone Age. I'm proud to say that with Smart's help, Lipa is well on its way toward becoming a 'Smart City'. Together, we can achieve this dream."
Acknowledging the LGU's thrust to implement an inclusive and highly digital governance program anchored on "Livelihood, Infrastructure, Peace and Advancement", Palanca said PLDT and Smart are committed to helping the city realize its vision. "We share the LGU's mission of empowering their constituents, especially in this time of pandemic. We believe that the power of reliable connectivity to the Internet and its benefits should be closer to communities to drive meaningful change. Together, we can be partners in making a better tomorrow for the people of Lipa," he said.
"Connectivity is essential as ever, with majority of businesses and households requiring it for business, school or work," Magbatoc said. "A resilient, fast and secure network is therefore key to transforming Lipa, the most populous city in Batangas, into a Smart City that is powered by the country's most extensive fiber optic backbone from PLDT. It is our commitment to continue to expand and improve our facilities here in Lipa and Batangas, and we look forward to collaborating with the local government and other government agencies in rolling out our network further and bringing the benefits of the Internet to more of our countrymen."
Galvez said that while Smart WiFi is already available in key national high schools, the rollout continues in other key public places. "Providing Smart WiFi in more areas is key to empowerment and social inclusion. Access to connectivity means access to a range of information, including health advisories, job opportunities and online education. Together, we can continue to bridge the digital divide," he said.
These initiatives are aligned with Smart's thrust in its "Live Smarter for a Better World" campaign, which elevates Smart's long-running community partnership programs and enables "personal revolutions" that inspire lasting positive change through connectivity and CSR initiatives.
The deployment of Smart WiFi is part of PLDT and Smart’s nationwide rollout and expansion of their integrated fixed wireless networks. To date, Smart’s wireless network, the fastest mobile network in the country according to third-party analytics firm Ookla, covers 96% of the Philippine population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Enabling these services is parent company PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country at over 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021.
PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.