From rivals to partners: Telcos offer free SMS in Yolanda-hit areas


MANILA, Philippines – Massive destruction and loss of life due to Typhoon Yolanda pushed  telecommunications firms to set aside their rivalry and help desperate survivors in Visayas.

In an unprecedented move, Globe Telecom and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company group through units Smart Communications and Sun Cellular agreed to provide subscribers in several Visayas areas 25 free text messages per day for 5 days.

The free SMS may be used for local and international text messages across all networks, the companies said in a joint statement Tuesday, November 12.

Subscribers in the following areas can avail themselves of free SMS from November 13 to 17:

"This is the company’s way of giving assistance to our customers who are suffering from the typhoon’s onslaught and who need to reach out to their family and friends in the country and abroad," said Peter Bithos, chief operating advisor for Globe Consumer Business Group.

Charles Lim, executive vice president of Smart and chief operating officer of Sun Cellular, said: "This is a time for Filipinos to come together and help our countrymen in their hour of great need.  This joint effort will help Smart, Sun Cellular and Talk 'N Text subscribers in the typhoon-struck areas to communicate with their loved ones at home and abroad."

No registration is required to avail of the free SMS as these will be automatically loaded at the start of each day.

Subscribers will be notified via text once the SMS bundles are sent.

Aside from providing free SMS, the 3 networks are also working on restoring full services in areas badly hit by Yolanda.

Monster winds and storm surges destroyed homes, buildings and roads, and toppled power and communication lines, killing thousands of people in the Visayas region.

The lack of communications has delayed relief efforts and surveying of casualties and damage, according to government officials. – Cherrie Regalado/

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