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Smart continues to fortify network as part of disaster preparedness

by Smart Communications, Inc. | Jul 21, 2014
[18 July 2014] Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has been reinforcing its network infrastructure and strengthening its disaster response strategies to be able to provide vital communication services even during extreme weather disturbances.

Telco sets up overlapping umbrella network coverage and Quick Deploy Telco Systems

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has been reinforcing its network infrastructure and strengthening its disaster response strategies to be able to provide vital communication services even during extreme weather disturbances.

At the recent conference hosted by the Partnerships for Disaster and Climate Resilience, PLDT and Smart technology head Rolando G. Peña said Smart has redesigned its cell towers to withstand stronger winds as well as deployed super-sized base stations with back-up power systems to cover wider areas.

Overlapping umbrella network coverage

Smart has also adopted an overlapping umbrella network coverage deployment strategy in heavily populated areas so subscribers will have contiguous signal even if some base stations go down. If a base station goes down temporarily, nearby base stations have the capability to compensate for and boost signal so that service disruption experienced by subscribers is kept to minimum.  

The conference, spearheaded by the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation, gathered government officials, business leaders, academic experts and heads of aid agencies to explore new ways of building resilient communities.

Peña said that Smart took off from its experience during typhoon Yolanda, whose record-strong winds toppled power lines, knocked down buildings and flattened entire villages, claiming over 6,000 lives.

Greater geographic redundancy

“Resiliency has been always part of our network design but after Typhoon Yolanda, we looked into ways to further improve and adopt. We mapped out critical areas around the country and started reconfiguring our facilities for even greater geographic redundancy – which meant setting up more robust fallback systems so that we continue to provide affected areas with voice, text and data services,” Peña said.

Smart also resorted to building more elevated equipment shelters as flood defense.

“We know that a simple call, text or online communication could equate to relief or assistance for affected individuals,” Peña added.

 

Quick Deploy Telco Systems

In a disclosure early this year, Smart’s parent company, PLDT, said that it had earmarked up to P32 billion for capital expenditures for this year, which included investments to further strengthen of its transmission and access networks in anticipation of climate change.

Aside from these adjustments, Peña said Smart is ready to roll out Quick Deploy Telco Systems and will continue to leverage on partnerships with government agencies and organizations, such as Telecoms Sans Frontieres and the Vodafone Foundation, in providing interim communications solutions to affected communities.

“What we need to have are new mindsets about how to deal with extreme events like Yolanda.  That’s because climate change is here and the Philippines is the frontlines,” Peña said.  

With the largest 4G network in the country, Smart has over 10,000 4G broadband stations serving 1,465 of the country’s major municipalities and cities. Smart's more resilient network design enabled the telco to remain largely operational even during the height of recent Typhoon Glenda which directly hit Bicol, Southern Luzon and Metro Manila.