THE network services of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Sun Cellular (Sun) continue to operate normally in most of the areas currently being affected by Tropical Storm Ruby even as cellular services in the worst-hit areas of Samar and Biliran have started to normalize, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) said on Monday.
It said mobile phone coverage in the Northern Samar towns of Allen, San Isidro, Rosario, Bobon, Catarman, Yakal, Mondragon, San Roque, Laoan and Pambujan were restored Sunday evening shortly after the storm passed the area.
Repair work is now under way in the coastal towns of Eastern Samar.
Even though Masbate was hit by the storm, the island’s capital city and municipalities were not cut off from service, it said. Moreover, service to the eastern towns of Cataingan, Pawican, Palanas, Nabangig, Dimasalang, Uson, and Badling were quickly restored.
All mobile phone cell sites in Romblon are working and operating normally, PLDT said.
“Some of our restoration teams and equipment are already on the ground in Eastern Samar, and are already working on restoring services. The sites in southern Samar: Marabut, Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapondan, Gen. Macarthur, and Hernani are working and operating normally,” the telco operator added.
In parallel with service restoration, Smart is providing communications support to national and local government agencies, PLDT said.
In partnership with the city government of Cebu, the telco has set up a Libreng Tawag [Free Calls] and charging station within the Cebu city hall Monday morning. Another station was set up in the city hall of Bogo in Northern Cebu, in partnership with the Archdiocese Rehabilitation and Relief Unit of Bogo City.
In Metro Manila, Smart and Sun have also set up a free call booth at the Malabon City Hall to service the needs of residents that were evacuated ahead of Typhoon Ruby’s landfall.
Other teams in other provinces in the Visayas, Southern Luzon, and Northern Mindanao are on standby to provide libreng tawag and charging stations should the need arise, PLDT said.
The telco has already prepositioned equipment and personnel in Central Philippines late last week. It has also deployed mobile phones, Smart satellite phones, and load to libreng tawag coordinators in Central and Eastern Visayas, as well as Northern Mindanao.
At least 25 portable generator sets will be deployed to Northern and Eastern Samar on Tuesday to power libreng charging stations since commercial power in both provinces are out.
It has also provided communications support by way of airtime load, Smart Satellite Services, and Internet connectivity for key government agencies involved in managing disaster response activities. Key government agencies have also been using the Smart Infoboard, a web-based SMS solution, to send weather bulletins, updates and warnings. Rosalie C. Periabras