With another school year set to start amid the threat of COVID-19, access to reliable internet remains crucial for students and learning institutions needing it for online education.
Under the partnership between Smart and the City Government of Tagum City, the city's scholars will receive Smart Bro Pocket Wifi devices with load allocation for use in online learning.
Among them is Von Gerald Abalos, a student from Tagum City in Mindanao. Recently, he was among the beneficiaries of a partnership between the LGU of Tagum and PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. that provided Smart Bro Pocket Wifi devices with load allocation to the city's scholars.
“These devices are really a big help to us students," Abalos said. "We can now attend our online classes with less to no interruptions. Also, we can use this to connect with our classmates and friends whom we miss so much,” he added.
These devices allow the students to connect to Smart LTE, the country's fastest mobile network according to third-party analytics firms like Ookla. To date, Smart's mobile networks serve 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Also among students benefiting from Smart LTE-powered devices for online learning is Ioan Salomon, an elementary student at Kapitan Moy Elementary School in Marikina City. According to Salomon, after their initial difficulties in adapting to the "new normal" in their school, they are now able to participate and keep learning. "The stable connection lets me connect to my online classes better," he said.
Calimlim, head of Camarines Norte provincial government's scholarship program, said that quality connectivity provided by PLDT enabled the smooth and seamless conduct of their virtual recognition rites online.
Virtual grads, too
Connectivity has not only benefited students who need to connect to classes, but also schools that have had to shift even their recognition rites online to honor the hard work put in by the graduates through livestreaming their simple yet meaningful ceremonies.
In Camarines Norte, for example, PLDT and Smart have partnered with the provincial government to ensure continuous internet service during the recent virtual recognition rites of their scholar-graduates for SY 2020-2021.
"We thank PLDT and Smart for their continued partnership, and for ensuring that we had strong and reliable connectivity during our recognition rites, fostering better online experiences even in the New Normal," said Jhing Calimlim, Community Affairs Officer of PGU Camarines Norte and head of the provincial government's scholarship program.
In the first half of the year, PLDT has further expanded its fiber infrastructure to over 524,000 kilometers as of end-June 2021. This fiber network, the most extensive in the country, also supports Smart's mobile networks by providing high-capacity links to its base stations deployed nationwide.
PLDT and Smart’s 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 and SDG #4: Quality Education.