BUSINESSES need to be agile across their operations and participate in digital ecosystems to succeed in the post-pandemic world according to the country’s largest integrated telecommunications provider PLDT.
During the recent Franchise Asia Philippines Virtual International Conference, PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio stressed that Filipinos need to embrace resilience and adaptability to overcome the difficulties brought by the pandemic.
“It has become imperative to adapt and act fast—pivoting processes and operations to survive, and build resilience for a sustainable future ahead,” said Panlilio.
The PLDT executive said that the past year had presented the significance of digital transformation in every industry, which now redefines how businesses operate.
Panlilio said companies strived to digitize their core processes by putting digital transformation on the top of their priority list as a long-term investment.
“It is the incubation of technology, purpose, and balance that drives people growth, business strategies, and sustainability. At the center of it all is still the customer. Hence, it is imperative to go beyond the hype of new technologies and discover how they can shape our future,” he added.
Given this scenario, PLDT and Smart have been leveraging digital technology and a robust network to deliver a world-class customer experience at the forefront of breakthrough innovations in the telco industry.
“PLDT and Smart are establishing programs that can effectively identify, evaluate, and incubate digitization to transform ourselves. By doing so, we are also creating new opportunities and harnessing advanced technologies to chart a path to the next horizon, mindful of our civic duty to help with economic recovery and overall nation-building,” Panlilio said.
Likewise, he mentioned PLDT’s continuous investment in network bandwidth capacity and fast-tracking of its fiber rollout, which has already reached over 524,000 km as of June 2021, a 22 percent increase compared to last year.
The group, through its B2B arm PLDT Enterprise, also continues to upgrade its network of 10 globally certified data center facilities to serve the hyperscaler market. PLDT is optimistic that making the Philippines a strategic hyperscaler hub in the Asia Pacific will propel the country to be the region’s next digital destination of choice by hyperscalers.
“PLDT and Smart continuously support Filipino enterprises by providing them with the best solutions available, exemplifying the most innovative digital transformation, enabling e-Industries, and empowering businesses in all shapes and sizes to evolve and thrive in this new operating condition,” he concluded.
For more information, visit pldtenterprise.com.
5G in PH rising, says connectivity insights provider Ookla
Fifth generation (5G) mobile networks are making significant advances in the Philippines, according to the global leader in network intelligence and connectivity insights provider, Ookla.
Most Philippine operators, according to a report by Ookla, launched 5G mobile networks in 2020 shortly after Thai operators did.
Smart, one of the major Philippine telecommunications service providers, launched 5G technology in June 2019 for fixed wireless units and launched the same for mobile subscribers in February 2020 in Metro Manila.
Globe, another major service provider in the Philippines launched 5G in July 2020, originally targeting subscribers in Metro Manila who had 5G-capable devices.
Both operators used spectrum in the 3,500 megahertz band, which is considered as the “sweet spot” in terms of 5G network capacity and coverage.
Ookla data showed that Smart recorded a median download speed of 200.43 mbps and 19.67 mbps upload speed in the first quarter of 2022. These were way ahead of Globe which registered median download speeds of 121.29 mbps and upload speeds of 9.93 mbps.
Availability of 5G nationwide, Ookla said, nearly doubled in just one year—from 9.4 percent coverage in the first quarter of 2021 to 18.1 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
“Part of this is related to the easing of right-of-way (ROW) rules,” said Ookla.
New ROW rules, enforced by the Department of Public Works and Highways in March 2021, lifted the ban on construction of critical infrastructure, particularly cell sites, along national roads.
Another reason for improvements in both 4G and 5G developments was the active involvement of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in allowing more telcos to enter the playing field.
“A third player was introduced to the market to add competition, improve network performance and reduce prices in the market,” said Ookla in its report.
The way was paved for the entry of the third player by the NTC and Department of Information and Communications Technology which declared Dito (then Mislatel) as the new major telco player.
According to Ookla, the Philippines was not the only country to benefit from ROW reforms. India made the same move in October 2021, or eight months after the Philippines did.
In the Philippines, Smart reached 25.5 percent 5G coverage in the first quarter of 2022 Globe reached 15.3 percent coverage. Ookla attributed this to “spectrum deployment strategies” of each company.
Smart had 1.6 million connected 5G devices to its network in the first quarter of 2022, or more than triple its level—376,000—in the first quarter of 2021. Globe, by end of March 2022, had more than 2 million devices connected to 5G.
Ookla noted that plans of both telcos to further invest in 5G bodes well for the spread of the technology, which delivers faster connection to the internet.
Smart is investing up to P85 billion in 5G rollout nationwide which started in December 2021. Smart’s mobile data traffic grew 30 percent year-on-year to 1,010 petabytes while the number of 5G base stations rose to 7,300 in February 2022 from just 5,000 in 2020, corresponding to a 5G population of 66 percent.
Globe added 390 sites in just the first three months of 2022, extending 5G network reach to 95 percent of the National Capital Region and 85 percent of key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Globe spent at least P92.8 billion to build 2,000 outdoor 5G sites and in-building solutions, 1,407 new cell sites and 1.4 million fiber lines.
Dito, the third Philippine telco, has partnered with hardware supplier Nokia to deploy 5G services in Mindanao in May 2021. In March 2022, this telco rolled out 5G home wi-fi services with 145 Metro Manila villages as pilot areas.
Villages in the cities of Manila, Caloocan and Quezon would be the first to benefit from 500 mbps of download speeds. Tests involving 5G in Caloocan showed download speeds of 512.66 mbps in the first quarter of this year.
Infinit Care powers mental health in workplace with technology
June 28, 2022 8:12 p.m.
Members of the media were gathered last June 24, to talk about workplace mental health and how Infinit Care is pioneering a tech-based solution that allows companies to support the mental wellbeing of employees.
Workplace Mental Health
Mental health issues are on the rise, especially among the working population and it’s severely affecting overall health and productivity.
The World Health Organization found that mental illness is prevalent in the Philippines. In fact, it is the third most common disability in the country. The National Center for Mental Health also recorded a 500% increase in monthly hotline calls due to depression during the pandemic.
Companies have tried to answer this plight by providing mental health support whether in-house or through a 3rd party provider.
However, a lot of the options in the market focus on delivering solutions that cater to those who are already in crisis and leave out a significant part of the population.
Studies also show that despite increases in stress and burnout, utilization for mental health benefits remain low due to the lack of access to proper mental health solutions and the persistent stigma around talking about mental health struggles.
A Pioneer in Mental Health Tech
Infinit Care partners with businesses and organizations to provide their employees and community with comprehensive mental health support.
“Our platform of care solutions are founded on The Mental Health Continuum which takes into account a wide range of mental health states so that every employee can receive customized support, no matter what they’re going through, wherever and however they need it,” explained Infinit Care Marketing Head, Paola Silva.
“Everyone needs different kinds of care at different times. We work with companies who care deeply about the mental wellbeing of their employees and understand that mental health is just as important as physical health. We help companies bring the best out of their people by providing personalized mental health support.” said Infinit Care’s Head of Clinical Care, Shyne Mangulabnan.
Infinit Care is the only provider in the Philippines that can provide multi-channel mental health support.
Available via web and mobile app (iOS and Android), Infinit Care can meet the varying needs of all employees.
Our suite of solutions include 24/7 chat support with real live Care Chat Coaches who commit to an average response time of 5 minutes, a team of qualified licensed counselors and coaches available for virtual counseling or coaching at your convenience, a library of mental health tools and content to meet the varying needs of your workforce, and mental health training and capacity building workshops for the leaders and entire organization.
For more information on Infinit Care, visit https://www.infinitcare.co
3 ways to build a sustainable, digital Asia-Pacific
June 21, 2022 9:38 p.m.
By Baifeng Lin
Many countries in the Asia-pacific have released digitalization strategies. Cloud Computing technologies are the cornerstone of the digital frontier. For digital economies to thrive they must adopt an open and green ecosystem.
The last two years have been a series of trials. Out of the changes, there has been increasing attention in the digital world and rekindled vigor in how people, businesses and organizations should adapt.
As one of the most populous and diverse regions in the world, the Asia-Pacific is set to be the fast growing economy at the forefront of the global digital landscape. It represents two-thirds of the world’s population, and would reap an economic dividend of more than 1.7 trillion annually.
Mckinsey notes that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation by seven years globally and 10 years in Asia Pacific.
To catch up with this sweeping trend, many countries have released national digitalization strategies. For example, Singapore released its Smart Nation 2025 blueprint, Indonesia and Malaysia released strategies to Go Digital, Bangladesh released its Digital Bangladesh blueprint, and Thailand announced its vision to become a digital Hub in ASEAN.
From a technological point of view, the future of Asia-Pacific will require a digital economy underpinned by leading Information and Communications technology solutions and an open and green industry ecosystem is needed as soil for innovation.
And finally, we will need to chart an effective course that addresses gaps in equality to normalize the playing field.
- Build ICT Infrastructure for digital economy
ICT has already proven its value in accelerating economic recovery post-pandemic. Connectivity and computing are the lifeblood of the digital frontier. While connectivity continues to bridge the digital divide offering new education and employment opportunities, enterprises look to the cloud, connectivity and AI to optimize their businesses.
However, the digital readiness of the region varies greatly. For example, China is stepping into data dividend and information dividend, and Southeast Asia is still under the peak phase of demographic dividend. In China, 5G has been widely covered across the country and the penetration rate is more than 40% -100+Mbps, fiber home pass rate is over 90%. However, the large-scale use of 5G has only started in some SEA countries. In SEA, 4G mobile coverage is slightly above 50%, and fiber broadband only reaches one third of households. Cloud penetration in SEA enterprises is less than 20%, which indicates a huge space for data monetization and industry digitalization.
Regarding 5G technology, it is already emerging as a game changer in key industry sectors. For example, Siriraj Hospital, the largest hospital in Thailand on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, launched the first 5G smart hospital in the ASEAN region featuring smart logistics, 5G Ambulance and smart inventory management.
According to professor Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, “the 5G smart hospital project will be a new model for modern medical facilities, 5G provides the high-speed connections needed to ensure seamless transfer of patient data and operation of telemedicine equipment”.
In some remote areas with limited access to 5G, digital infrastructure is playing an even more important role. The Bangladesh government has made great efforts and progress in implementing network in over 2,600 townships and enabling social well-being service including e-government and finance.
In Malaysia, known as “the kingdom of spices”, HEXA Food established an Internet of Things team to train a chili identification model on Cloud MOdelArts. The image recognition technology of Atlas 500 quickly and accurately identifies the quality of the chilies. Intelligent AI-powered sorting eliminates errors in manual sorting and improves the efficiency by 50%.
- Create an open and green ecosystem
Meanwhile, every country, business and individual has faced some common questions recently — how to survive and develop with resilience and robustness in an environment full of uncertainties? The booming digital economy and low carbonization will generate new business form, new production relationships, and new value distribution systems. A healthier and greener industry ecosystem is therefore required.
First, embracing a digital Asia-Pacific will make an open and collaborative ICT ecosystem will include government, partners, operators and users and will help shape opportunities for transformation in different industries. A good example would be the joint open lab in Singapore. All companies, academics and government agencies can use the lab, where they can have access to cutting-edge robotic solutions, intelligent digital twins, and Ai development kits for research.
Secondly, moving towards carbon neutrality, digital power technologies will be essential to enable energy digitalization for a greener future. In Thailand, smart photovoltaic rooftops are being installed in over 1,200 convenience stores. This is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for more than 1,300 tons every year. By integrating Ai and Clod in PV for optimal power generation, this makes the solar power plant to highly efficient, safe and reliable and builds the foundation for the solar to become the main energy source.
- Chart a sustainable and inclusive course
Simultaneously, we need to be aware that half the world doesn’t have internet access. In Asia-Pacific, according to the APNIC Foundation, the total internet adoption rate in the region remains below half of the total population at 48.4%. By 2023, it’s estimated this will increase to 72% (3.1Billion users), leaving more than a quarter of the region’s population still disconnected.
That’s simply untenable in an increasingly digital world as people can’t be empowered by technology if they don’t know how to use it. Service like mobile payments, government services, access to digital education and healthcare should all act as gateways to anyone and help underserved communities, including women, girls and older generations.
Take education for example, the ability to learn knowledge regardless of location has helped democratize education resource access. In the Philippines, PLDT-Smart Foundation worked with the tech company to promote the School-in-Bag project. Each backpack includes a laptop for the teacher, 20 tablets and a Smart LTE pocket Wi-Fi kit. It significantly enhanced the students’ learning capabilities, helped children absorb their lessons, and improved the teaching strategies.
Future is digital
Technology has the power to level the playing field. It can bring education, healthcare and jobs to anyone, anywhere around the world. It will revolutionize businesses and industry and it can help manage our use of the world’s resources to enable a sustainable and green future.
In the Asia-Pacific Region, the digital economy ignites social recovery and enables resilient future. It provides synergies for public-private industrial collaborations across country boundaries and scenarios. As we arrive on the precipice of a digital future, we must strive to focus on the harmony that exists between our real world, and the digital one ahead.