PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has fully restored communication services in Palawan following the onslaught of super typhoon Odette in December 2021.

When Odette made landfall in Roxas town in Palawan on December 17, it pounded the province with destructive wind and torrential rains, knocking down utility lines, cutting commercial power supply, and causing major floods.

“Our preparations prior to Odette’s landfall made it possible for our personnel to immediately assess the typhoon’s impact on our infrastructure and relay this information to our command center. This has allowed us to augment on-ground efforts leading us to reconnect severely affected communities,” said Cathy Yang, FVP and Group Head of Corporate Communications at PLDT and Smart.

Immediately after Odette, PLDT and Smart flew in additional personnel and mission-critical equipment via the group’s private air charter unit Pacific Global One Aviation (PG1) to ramp up repair and restoration activities.

Within a week after the typhoon, Smart was first to restore communication services including 5G in Palawan’s capital city Puerto Princesa, enabling residents to make calls, send text messages and connect to the internet. Some previously restored areas, however, experienced intermittent service because of power supply issues and accidental cuts during clearing operations.

On the other hand, LTE services in the northern portion of the province including the towns of San Vicente, Taytay, Roxas, El Nido and the island goup of Coron had weathered Odette, allowing customers to send and receive SMS, and transact on their LTE-enabled mobile phones. Voice call was also possible for devices with VoLTE function.

Smart engineers worked through the holidays to reconnect more areas that were cut off. Smart also activated Libreng Tawag (free call) and Libreng Charging (free charging) stations in hardest-hit communities to provide communication as aid to residents.

Guided by the group’s core value of ‘malasakit’ or compassion, PLDT and Smart, together with PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF), distributed more than 3,000 packs of relief aid across Palawan.

PLDT and Smart promote a #SafeandSmart Philippines by promoting a culture of preparedness, and by providing immediate response through network resilience, continuous availability of communication services, and relief assistance to those affected by disasters, and aid in recovery.

These initiatives underscore the group’s commitment to help the country attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, by significantly reducing the number of people affected by disasters.