The country’s biggest telecommunication company (telco) is on target to have 100% 3G coverage of the country by the third quarter of 2014.
This developed after the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) completed deploying 620 kilometers of submarine fiber optic cables linking Palawan province to the rest of its national backbone.
The P861-million cable project is part of PLDT’s nationwide expansion of its fiber optic network which now spans over 78,000 kilometers. The roll-out in Palawan is comprised of state-of-the-art fiber optic inland and submarine cables that run from Puerto Princesa to Taytay in Palawan, and San Jose de Buenavista to La Paz, Iloilo City.
Already, subscribers of PLDT’s wireless companies - Smart Communications Inc. and Sun Cellular have started benefitting from a faster mobile data service in Palawan.
However, “This network boost does not only help locals, it will also help tourists have a more enjoyable stay here. It will perk up tourism and other businesses in the province,” says Orlando Vea, Chief Wireless Advisor of Smart Communications and president and CEO of Digital Mobile Philippines.
Palawan has two World Heritage Sites, the Underground River and the Tubattaha Reef. Its tourism is a P4-billion industry according to former Palawan Mayor Edward Hagedorn.
In 2004, Smart built the first microwave based backbone for Palawan which utilized microwave radio to transmit voice and data. This enabled Smart subscribers in the province to use multimedia messaging and mobile internet on their wireless devices, aside from voice calls and text.
Before the microwave backbone was built, the province was connected via VSAT or Very Small Aperture Terminals which were more costly and had much less bandwidth.
Local and foreign tourists value internet access, the Palawan Local tourism board acknowledged. “Social media helps a lot in promoting our local tourism. With this roll-out, we now get free advertisement in an instant through the photos taken by our visitors, which they subsequently share via social media,” added Palawan City Tourism Officer Aileen Cynthia Amurao enthuses.
At present, Palawan receives a million visitors a year, about 40% of them foreign tourists.
“They have a high standard in terms of wireless technology. Now that Palawan has access to high-speed wireless data services, these tourists won’t think twice about coming back and recommending the place to their friends back home.”