To ensure uninterrupted telco connectivity as inclement weather disrupts power supply, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) have deployed generator sets to typhoon-prone provinces.
The prepositioning comes just as the Philippines enters the rainy season and anticipates the threats of tropical cyclones. Early in June, Tropical Storm Dante cut across parts of Eastern Visayas, Bicol, and Southern Luzon causing flooding in some areas and power outages. On average, the Philippines is pounded by around 20 typhoons annually.
The gale force winds and heavy rain that destructive typhoons bring often damage power lines and key infrastructure, plunging communities into darkness for days. Without power, residents also face communication problems as they have no way to charge their mobile phones.
“Communication is very important in times of emergency. It gives responders a clearer picture of what to expect before they head out to distressed communities,” said Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart. “More importantly, it connects affected residents to their loved ones who are waiting for updates from their relatives.”
Smart and PLDT-Smart Foundation have distributed 37 generator sets in areas that are often hit by typhoons in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They’re currently on standby in Pampanga, Bulacan, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Leyte, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Agusan Del Norte, and Surigao Del Sur.
Alongside generator sets, Smart normally deploys Libreng Charging, Tawag and WiFi booths in heavily impacted areas as communication aid for affected residents. These pop-up booths are often the lifeline of residents to the outside world.
“Smart is committed to help communities it serves, especially during times of calamity. The generator sets will also complement our Libreng Charging (free charging), Libreng Tawag (free calls) and Free WiFi (free wifi) stations that we set up in areas that have been ravaged by disasters as communication aid to help our customers in times of need,” said Melvin Consunji Nubla, Department Head and VP at Smart for Go-To-Market and Subscriber Management.
In April, Smart tapped affiliate company Meralco’s renewable energy arm, Spectrum, to deploy solar-powered generators in ten areas across Bicol to boost their resilience against weather disturbances.
In the last quarter of 2020, Typhoon Ulysses left around Php 20 billion worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure as it tore across Luzon in November, affecting over a million families. The powerful cyclone also toppled power lines, leaving more than 3.8 million households or half of Meralco’s customer base in Luzon without power.
PAGASA has officially declared the start of the rainy season in the first week of June this year. But before that, four cyclones have already lashed the country, including Dante.
The programs in helping communities become more resilient in times of calamity are in line with the commitment of Smart and PLDT-Smart Foundation, to help the country attain the 11th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by significantly reducing the number of people affected by disasters.
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