As Pope Francis leaves, network services returns to normal
MANILA, Philippines – As soon as Pope Francis’ flight back to Rome took off Monday, January 19, operations of the telecommunications firms returned to normal.
A series of disruptions affecting millions of mobile phone subscribers was implemented during the Pope's 5-day visit. (READ: Papal visit: Netizens react to disrupted telco services)
Such was done to ensure the pontiff's safety. (READ: No network service? It's for Pope's safety, say telcos)
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) directed telecommunications providers to shut off signal in areas visited by the Roman pontiff as mobile phones could be used as triggering device for explosives.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) spokesperson Ramon Isberto said in a text message that the operations of the wireless arms of the PLDT Group, including Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, normalized after “Shepherd One” carrying Pope Francis back to Vatican took off from the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.
“We normalized shortly after the Pope’s plane took off,” Isberto said.
“All of our network services in the Philippines are back to normal,” Smart announced on its Twitter account.
Yoly Crisanto, senior vice president for corporate communications of Globe, said the NTC discontinued issuing shutdown orders after Pope Francis ended his 5-day visit.
Globe's mobile services also returned to normal Monday, January 19.
"Yes, now that the Pope has safely left the country, all operations are back to normal," Crisanto said in a text message.
In an advisory to subscribers, Globe said: "You may have experienced temporary loss of mobile signal and Internet connection earlier, especially in areas part of Pope Francis' itinerary. This was done for security reasons in compliance with the government's directive. Our mobile services are now back to normal. Thank you for your understanding."
Complying with gov’t orders
Crisanto said about 4 million Globe customers were affected by the government mandate to shut down mobile services as a security precaution in areas where Pope Francis was held.
Crisanto clarified that only their mobile services were asked to be turned off. Their DSL services were operational in the affected areas, and customers were able to use the Internet and maximize over-the-top services like Viber as alternative messaging tools via Wi-Fi.
Globe also apologized for the disruptions, saying the company only complied with the government's instructions for the safe visit of the Pope.
"We deeply apologize to our customers who were affected by the government order, which was necessary to protect the Pope and those who participated in the activities of the visit," Crisanto said.
The NTC had released daily network shutdown and restoration orders since January 15, disabling call, SMS, and mobile Internet services in locations around papal events. – Rappler.com