Smart brings typhoon-resilient LTE connectivity to Batanes

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

High-speed mobile Internet that can withstand a 200-kph typhoon has arrived in Batanes with the rollout by Smart Communication of LTE connectivity in the country’s smallest province on May 3, 2018, in cooperation with telecom firm Ericsson.

Alex O. Caeg, senior vice president and head of consumer business customer development of PLDT

By upping the ante for mobile data experience in Batanes, Smart also became the first operator to put Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced in place in what is considered as the “Last Frontier of the North”.

“This is part of Smart’s commitment to bring mobile Internet to more than 90% of the country’s municipalities by the end of this year,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering.

With Smart LTE-A now servicing the provincial capital of Basco and Smart LTE covering the rest of the province, locals and tourists may now rely on a more reliable and stronger Internet connectivity to communicate with relatives and friends anywhere in the world, do business and promote their products, and engage in online shopping, banking, and social media.

In particular, social media allows visitors to share their unforgettable experiences in Batanes by posting their photos and videos, thus helping in the promotion of tourism in the province. Meanwhile, students can now do their schoolwork more conveniently with faster Internet connection.

“We are grateful that you have installed one of the strongest towers which can withstand the force of a 200-kph typhoon. The best thing you’ve told us is that even if a 350-kph typhoon pummels our province, damages our tower, and disables our Internet connection, you will repair the tower and restore our connection,” said Batanes governor Marilou Cayco during the launch at Octagon Bed and Dine in Basco.

“If the military has vessels that travel from one island to Batanes, then we go with them. Of if there’s an airlift from the Air Force, we go with the Philippine Air Force. That’s how we restore — we coordinate with the military,” said Pierre S. delos Reyes, group head for service platforms and network operations of Smart.

He added that they also coordinate with Pagasa in terms of safety conditions. “If they declare ‘okay, this day, it’s already safe to travel,’ then we go out immediately,” delos Reyes explained.

According to Cayco, Ivatans were already hoping for strong and speedy connection even before she became governor. In 2016, Batanes fell victim to the onslaught of Typhoon Ferdie, losing its Internet connection for almost two years.

“We look forward to supporting the progress and growth of Batanes,” said Alex O. Caeg, senior vice president and head of consumer business customer development of PLDT.

“Now that we have come closer to this dream of the digital Filipino to connect everyone, no matter how far or near our countrymen are, we’re happy to note that over 70% of our Ivatans are on the Smart network.”

The launch was capped by a live call between Batanes governor Cayco and PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan

The LTE connection is powered by the world’s “longest microwave hop” at 128 kilometers, made possible by Ericsson’s commercially available Mini-Link LH which contains an integrated high-capacity Ethernet switch. It provides native Ethernet and TDM supporting the evolution to all-IP.

“It is the longest 1.6Gbps inter-island packet microwave hop deployed by Ericsson globally,” explained Martin Wiktorin, Ericsson Philippines country unit head.

Meanwhile, Smart announced that Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers in Batanes who sign up for load packages until July 15 can get free access to YouTube one hour a day.

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