PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are providing connectivity support to the Office of the Vice President's drive-thru vaccination site in Harbour Square, Manila.
PLDT and Smart turned over Smart Bro Pocket Wifi and PLDT Prepaid Home WiFi units that will be used by frontliners and volunteers at the OVP's Vaccine Express site. Held in collaboration with the City Government of Manila, the site is expected to cater to tricycle drivers, pedicab drivers and delivery riders from the city.
Smart has also turned over five School-in-a-Bag units to the OVP, in support of its Community Learning Hubs, where students can get free access to computers, gadgets, equipment, and the internet, as well as tutors, to ensure that no learner is left behind, especially during the crisis. The School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and a disaster-resilient pedagogy even for schools in remote areas without electricity. Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop and pocket WiFi for the teacher and 10 tablets for the students, all pre-loaded with interactive, multimedia content accessible even if offline. Through various initiatives implemented with PLDT and with the support of external organizations, Smart deployed 86 School-in-a-Bag packages in 2020 alone. Since its launch in 2016, around 300 bags have been deployed, benefiting over 83,000 students and more than 4,000 teachers in last-mile communities.
PLDT and Smart also previously rolled out fast and free Smart WiFi connectivity in isolation sites set-up by the OVP in Malabon City.
"This is our way of helping ensure that our trike and pedicab drivers and riders--our economic frontliners--have access to vaccines. We thank the City of Manila and our partners like PLDT and Smart for working with us in this project," Vice President Leni Robredo said.
"Connectivity is a key component in our country's COVID-19 response. We are always ready to work with our government to ensure that vaccination sites and other COVID-19 facilities have access to fast and reliable connectivity, and we take this mission to heart," said PLDT Inc and Smart Communications President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio.
Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart, underscored the importance of technology in helping create a better world. "We have always been at the forefront of using our cutting-edge technology to create a better future for everyone. This is the driving force that has kept us going. It has always been in our DNA to serve and improve the lives of Filipino people—not just our customers," she said. "Part of this is our support for our advocacy programs, such as School-in-A-Bag, through which we are helping students continue learning despite the challenges of the pandemic."
Support for gov't COVID response
This initiative is part of PLDT and Smart's ongoing support for the government's nationwide COVID-19 response, which also includes the roll-out of fiber-powered WiFi connectivity to government-run quarantine, swabbing, isolation sites, vaccination sites, and other COVID-19 facilities.
Since last year, PLDT and Smart have been providing connectivity and communications support to frontline agencies and their personnel such as the departments of health, transportation, public works, the armed forces and police, local governments, and non-governmental organizations in different parts of the country, to help frontliners and patients stay connected despite the challenges of the pandemic.
These efforts are aligned with Smart's thrust in its "Live Smarter for a Better World" campaign, which highlights Smart's long-running community partnership programs, enabling "personal revolutions" that spark lasting positive change through connectivity and CSR initiatives.
Fastest mobile network
PLDT Prepaid Home WiFi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi are powered by Smart LTE, the fastest mobile network in the country according to third-party analytics firms. To date, Smart's mobile network covers 96% of the Philippine population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis, named Smart as the country’s fastest mobile data network in the second half of 2020, and has also cited Smart as the country's fastest mobile data network for three years in a row now.
On the other hand, Smart also recently scored a rare sweep in the April 2021 Philippines Mobile Network Experience Awards by independent analytics firm Opensignal*, beating the competition across all metrics in three essential aspects of service: Coverage (4G Coverage Experience, 4G Availability), Speed (Download and Upload Speed) and Experience (Games, Video and Voice App).
These efforts are also part of the company’s commitment to helping the Philippines attain the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG #4: Quality Education and SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.