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PLDT, Smart fortify countrywide network, frontline workers empowered, vaccination rollout

In the midst of the epidemic, frontline workers at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center’s San Simon Facility in Cagayan de Oro require the internet, notably for information distribution, document exchange, and faster communication.

Connectivity is still vital to Dr. Andresul Labis of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in San Simon, Cagayan de Oro City, as the country faces increased COVID-19 cases, especially for clinics located outside of city centers.

“It enables our team to stay connected despite being away from downtown,” said Dr Labis, who heads the NMMC-Center for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, also known as the San Simon facility. Located in the outskirts of the city, the San Simon facility was built by the Cagayan de Oro LGU to help manage its COVID-19 cases. It now serves as a temporary treatment monitoring facility for mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 and as step down facility for patients admitted at NMMC.

A newly activated LTE site in Brgy San Simon by PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has helped ensure Smart coverage in the area, boosting frontline responders in the fight against the pandemic.

The country’s only integrated telco PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart have accelerated the deployment of their LTE and 5G networks nationwide as part of the firms’ ongoing efforts to expand network coverage. Smart had raised its base station count to over 68,500 by the end of June 2021, with over 4,500 LTE base stations deployed in the first half of the year alone. Smart has also activated 5G in over 4,000 locations around the country. With 39.5 million data customers as of end-June, Smart’s network is the most popular in the Philippines.

Supporting Smart’s mobile networks is PLDT’s fiber network. In the first half of the year, PLDT has added 95,000 kilometers to its nationwide fiber footprint, further expanding the country’s most extensive fiber infrastructure to more than 524,000 kilometers as of the end-June 2021.

Teleconsultation and vaccination distribution require internet access.

Teleconsultation programs like Cebu’s COVID-19 TelegaBai, which is a collaboration with the Philippine College of Physicians-Central Visayas Chapter, rely on connectivity as well. Doctors and medical health professionals recognized at provincial and district hospitals can use Smart’s fast and reliable network to manage severe or critical COVID-19 cases thanks to this project, which provides SIMs and load support. Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, Smart has aided NMMC’s Teleconsultation efforts by giving smartphones and data to the hospital. The NMMC Telekonsulta Service focuses on non-emergency situations and attempts to create a platform for patients to consult medical specialists directly via their mobile phones.

The internet also plays an integral role in the ongoing nationwide vaccine rollout, supporting LGUs in their bid to get as many of their constituents registered via online platforms.

PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure and SDG #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

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