PLDT to increase network capacity during Pope's visit
MANILA, Philippines – (2nd UPDATE) The country's largest telecommunication firm will mount additional network capacity during Pope Francis’ visit from January 15 to 19.
Telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT) is "obliged to help" as its chairperson, Manuel V. Pangilinan, is part of the papal visit organizing committee, PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto said Thursday, January 8.
"I think they invited him to be a member of the organizing committee, that's why we're obliged to help," Isberto said, referring to the state body National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
"We're providing satellite phones and fiber-speed connection," Isberto told reporters.
The obligation, though, is partly "gratis" and paid, said Isberto, who declined to disclose the arrangement's ratio.
The PLDT group will also provide telecommunications facilities for the international center at the Manila Hotel, and the Vatican media at the Manila Diamond Hotel, Isberto added.
PLDT's support is also a response to the government's request to ensure telecommunication infrastructure is up and running during the Pope's visit.
Tycoon and San Miguel Corporation chief Ramon Ang is also a member of the committee, Isberto said.
No signal or Internet
Meanwhile, Globe Telecom Inc also said it would provide support to the Pope's contingent, although it was not coursed through the NTC, said Yoly Crisanto, the company's vice president for corporate communications.
In an SMS advisory sent Thursday, January 15, Globe told its subscribers that it installed additional cell sites within Manila, Makati, and Pasay in anticipation of a surge in demand during the papal visit.
But it advised subscribers that due to the overwhelming number of people using their network in the said areas, signal and Internet connection difficulties might happen.
"We hope for your understanding. Thank you, and may you have a memorable and meaningful papal visit experience," Globe said.
Should signal or Internet get disrupted, another option to communicate is through FireChat, a wireless mesh networking app.
The more FireChat users there are in a given area, like the sites for the papal events, the greater the capability to transmit messages in an off-grid network. (READ: Rappler and FireChat partner for papal visit)
Firechat gained following during the Hong Kong democracy protests as students looked for an alternative means of communication in anticipation of a government jam of mobile phone signals in protest zones. – Rappler.com
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