PH telcos ramp up ?Yolanda? efforts

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The country?s telephone operators ? Bayan Telecommunications, Globe Telecom, and Smart Communications ? have put their manpower and telecom infrastructure in hyper mode to assist subscribers who have been severely affected by monster Typhoon Yolanda.

Bayan Telecommunications

Lopez-owned Bayan announced that it is offering free calling service in Tacloban City for residents of the city and nearby places.

Bayan is offering free three minutes of domestic and international long distance calls, as well as calls to cellular numbers, to those who would like to call to get in touch with their families and loved-ones to inform them of their present condition and whereabouts.

The free calling station, which has been set up at several tents inside the compound of the Bayan office located at the corner of T. Claudio and Sto. Nino Street, (in front of the Remedios T. Romualdez Plaza) is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM to anyone who would like to use the service.

Aside from free calling, Bayan is also offering free charging of cellular phones, rechargeable emergency flashlights, among other devices at the center for those who may need to power up their gadgets.

Globe Telecom

The Ayala-owned mobile carrier has launched the ?Bangon Portal? to gather important information with up to the minute network updates, emergency services, relief operations, donation details and emergency hotlines.

Using the portal and Twitter #BangonPinoy, Globe seeks to raise awareness on various humanitarian services and partners that are available to the public during disasters.

The program, first introduced in 2009 after typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, has allowed communities devastated by the recent calamity to benefit from relief operations, free call and text services, network restoration, and a series of community-rebuilding activities.

Below every page in the Bangon Pinoy portal is a list of Emergency Hotlines of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Philippine Red Cross for easy reference in case of emergency.

At the same time, Globe has also restored cellular coverage in 16 more municipalities in Visayas.

Cellular services are now available in the towns of Makato and New Washington in Aklan; Anilao, Banate, Barotac Viejo in Iloilo; Palompon in Leyte; Gandara, San Sebastian, Marabut, Motiong, Paranas, Pinabacdao, Tarangnan in Samar and Anahawan in Southern Leyte.

Smart Communications

The PLDT-owned operator, meanwhile, has restored its mobile network coverage in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the first town where Super Typhoon Yolanda made landfall.

Using an ultra-portable Instant Network setup, Smart and Vodafone engineers were able to restore cellular services at the town?s center, allowing residents to contact their family and loved ones outside after being isolated for several days.

To directly aid in the communications requirements of humanitarian efforts for immediate relief and rehabilitation, a Multi-Equipment-On-Wheels (MEOW) was immediately fired up to cover the airport and seaport areas, allowing not only voice call and text but also data.

As of November 17, Smart and Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. have restored 85 percent of their affected networks in the Visayas. Smart and DMPI are now focusing on fast tracking network restoration in the most affected parts especially in Leyte and Eastern Samar.

Working with Vodafone Foundation, Smart was able to quickly deploy Instant Network setups that provided immediate restoration of cellular services in Palo, Leyte and in Borongan, Eastern Samar last week.

Aside from Borongan and Guiuan, the towns of Jipapad, Maslog, and Arteche in Eastern Samar also have network signal restored. Smart Satellite Services are also powering Libreng Tawag stations in Borongan, Dolores, Guiuan and Hernani.

In Leyte, network coverage has already been restored in Albuera, Babatngon, Bato, Calubian, Baybay, Dulag, Hilongos, Hindang, Inopacan, Isabel, Kananga, McArthur, Mahaplag, Matag-ob, Matalom, Merida, Ormoc, Palo, Palompon, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Tabango, Tacloban, and Villaba.

In Tacloban City alone, Smart has been able to fire up five celllsites that cover the main downtown and airport areas. An Instant Network was fired up in Palo last November 15.

A MEOW is also serving residents in Ormoc City to augment network coverage in the area. More than just a cellsite-on-wheels, a MEOW has equipment on board to serve higher speed data connectivity for mobile Internet services.

Meanwhile, Smart and DMPI through its brand Sun Cellular continue to provide Libreng Tawag free call and text services in areas still heavily affected. Smart Satellite Services are being used in cities and municipalities without cellular coverage. The companies have also beefed up its free call and Wi-Fi stations in Mactan Air Base and Villamor Air Base to serve the needs of arrivals from Leyte and Samar. Today, there are 34 Libreng Tawag Stations serving the public.

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