First posted 12:30 pm | Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines — Smart Communications fired up its cell site at the Tacloban airport Tuesday noon in a bid to support various emergency relief operations for residents affected by monster typhoon “Yolanda.”
“It’s not possible to restore all the facilities at the same time. So the first priority is to support emergency relief agencies,” Ramon Isberto, PLDT and Smart Public Affairs group head said, noting that the airport is located along the downtown area, a portion of the city where signal has been restored.
Other cell sites will be fired up in the next couple of hours, he said, but added that restoration in the whole of Tacloban will have to wait as it depends on the restoration of commercial power in the city.
But in total, Smart Communications- Public Affairs Group said in a statement that Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun network services have restored 82 percent of its network services in the Visayas; 100 percent in Bohol, Guimaras, Negros Oriental, and Southern Leyte; while still below 50 percent in Biliran and Eastern Samar.
In Palawan, network service is 100 percent normalized, except for Coron with 50 percent restored to date.
“We’re stepping up the deployment of network equipment to more areas so that we can restore rapidly services at strategic areas such as dense population centers, relief operations centers and vital facilities like airports,” Isberto said in a separate statement.
In the meantime, Isberto said they are hosting free calls and free mobile phone battery charging in the most severely affected cities and towns.
The specific locations of “Libreng Tawag” centers are as follows:
1. Smart cellsite in Borongan City, Eastern Samar
2. PNP Headquarters, Tacloban City, Leyte
3. PLDT Office, Jones St., Tacloban City, Leyte
4. DSWD booth, Tacloban City Hall
5. Smart cellsite near VNG Subdivision, Tacloban City, Leyte
6. Municipal Hall, Palo, Leyte
7. Smart Store, Ormoc City, Leyte (with free mobile phone charging)
8. Ormoc City Plaza, Ormoc City, Leyte
9. Ormoc airport, Ormoc City, Leyte
10. Municipal Hall, San Francisco, Camotes Island, Cebu
11. Cebu Cultural Center, Bantayan Island
12. Smart cellsite in Sta.Fe, Bantayan Island (with free mobile phone charging)
13. Madridejos Municipal Hall, Bantayan Island (with free mobile phone charging)
In Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte, Libreng Tawag stations will be available to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as per curfew rules in the area, except in VNG Subdivision which is open only at night.
Free mobile phone battery charging services are also available at the Smart cellsite in Roxas City in Capiz, and Smart cellsite in Old Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan.
Additional teams have been deployed to open more Libreng Tawag stations in Leyte and Samar where the most devastated communities are located.
“We’re using different mobile and satellite technologies to rapidly address the needs of these communities. Aside from mobile network restoration and deployment of Smart Satellite Services, we’ve also partnered with Vodafone Foundation for the set up of an instant mobile network in Leyte,” said Isberto.
He said an ultra-portable network will be installed in Palo, Leyte, also to restore vital communications in the area in support of humanitarian relief and rehabilitation efforts.