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Average: 3.2 (5 votes)

Globe Telecom has announced its latest product offering called SuperDuo, which is an upgrade to its Duo service.  In a text message from 8888, Globe said: "You can upgrade your Duo to SuperDuo to enjoy unlimited calls to any Globe or Touch Mobile nationwide, on top of your Duo subscription for only P499 for 30 days."

It said: "Just text DUO OFF to 8888 to deactivate your Duo and text SUPERDUO<area>ON to 8888 to register to SuperDuo. 

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Average: 4 (1 vote)

Globe Telecom and Research In Motion (RIM) launched in the Philippines the BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone in the Philippines. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone will be available from Globe starting October 1, 2009.

The new BlackBerry Curve 8520 introduces an innovative touch-sensitive trackpad, which makes scrolling and selection smooth and easy for a great navigation experience. It is also the first BlackBerry® smartphone to feature dedicated media keys, smoothly integrated along the top of the handset, giving customers an easy, convenient way to control their music and videos. 

PLDT Watchpad

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Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. or PLDT has introduced a new technology that makes watching TV over the internet easier and more satisfying. Through PLDT Watchpad, myDSL subscribers can watch TV shows, films, and more over the internet. Available channels now include National Geographic, Cartoon Network, Pinoy Box Office, CNN, Animax Mobile, CNBC, and GMA 7, with more coming soon.

Best experienced starting with myDSL Plan 1299, Watchpad is available for free to all myDSL subscribers nationwide. Subscribers have to register at to get their username and password.

PLDT Customer Sales and Marketing Group Head Eric Alberto said PLDT Watchpad is a fitting demonstration of synergy in the PLDT Group made possible by a partnership with Mediascape, the media partner.

RFID system

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Despite the protests from several groups, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and its private sector partner Stradcom Corp. will proceed with the implementation of the radio frequency identification (RFID) project for vehicles this year.  "We are going to get the approval of the National Telecommunication Commission for the project," Mr. Vince Dizon, Stradcom vice president for public relations, said during a consultation with various transport groups at the main office of the LTO in Quezon City last week.

Before this, the NTC had threatened to confiscate the RFID units that the LTO plans to install on all vehicles in the country, saying these gadgets need to be approved by the government regulator.  The project involves the use of RFID tags or microchips that pick up and send signals as well as proximity readers that transmit signals to the tags.  LTO chief Arturo Lomibao said the project allows electronic verification of vehicle identity and data, which would enable the LTO to detect colorum and out of line  public utility vehicles.

Call rates

Average: 3 (3 votes)

The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) has assured that it will begin implementing the new billing system for mobile voice calls by the first week of December, ahead of the Christmas season when the volume of communication usually doubles.  "This is expected to benefit the 75 million mobile phone subscribers during the Christmas season," NTC deputy commissioner Douglas Mallillin said.

Mallillin said that while the mobile phone operators were asking for another delay in the implementation of Memorandum Circular No. 05-07-2009 until January 31, 2010, he said the telecom providers have been given enough time to prepare for the switch in the billing system.  The circular set at six seconds per pulse the maximum unit of billing for the cellular phone calls of both postpaid or prepaid subscribers.  Currenctly, subscribers are charged P6.50 per minute of call.

Smart mobile banking

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Smart Communications has partnered with banks to offer various mobile banking services.  Recently, Smart launched with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) a new service that will allow bank clients who are also Smart subscribers to do a wide range of bank transactions through their mobile phones.  The product called BPI-Smart Full-Mobile Banking is a huge upgrade for BPI clients who are Smart subscribers since balance inquiry transaction was previously the only function that can be used through the key-based mobile banking facilities. Now, they cannot only balance inquiry but also do fund transfers, bill payments, Smart prepaid airtime reloading and Smart Money reloading.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Smart president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno said they see bright prospects for mobile commerce in the Philippines.  “As the country’s leading telco, we have adopted the fundamental strategy of providing relevant communication solutions and mobile security infrastructure to our partner banks. We are confident that this partnership with BPI, the country’s pioneer in electronic banking, will result in an expanded, more secure, and more convenient mobile banking experience for millions of Smart and BPI customers,” Nazareno said.

SMS for emergency

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Thousands of mobile phone subscribers sent text messages asking for help at the height of flashfloods that submerged their homes on September 26, 2009, when telephone and power lines were cut off in many parts of Luzon.  Although help came a day or two days later, and for many, did not come at all, flashflood victims were able to send SOS through SMS to radio and television stations and the hotlines of government agencies during the time they needed help the most.

"Despite damages on our equipment, we were getting anecdotal evidence that we had signals in calamity areas," said Mr. Ramon Isberto, spokesman of Smart Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. or PLDT.

"Even in areas that were flooded, we were able to provide coverage. That's why people were able to send text," said Isberto. "I personally handled three cases and attended to their problems through my cell phone."

Flashfloods hit Metro Manila

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Thousands of people fled from their homes in low lying areas in Metro Manila, which suffered the heaviest rainfall in four decades on 26th September, as a result of typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) that crossed Luzon from the Pacific Ocean.  Metro Manila and 23 provinces in Luzon were declared under state of calamity.

The typhoon also left more than 140 casualties and dozens more missing, because of the flash floods and landslines triggered by the heavy rains, measuring 341 millimeters in a six-hour period, which authorities said was nearly equivalent to a one-month of rain that the country received in the past month.  This surpassed the previous record for Metro Manila in 1967, according to the weather bureau.

“We were able to break that record in a span of six hours. Today, we really experienced an extreme weather event," said Mr. Nathaniel Cruz, weather services bureau head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).  He said this was a proof that the country was affected by climate change.

Smart Hellow

Average: 3 (3 votes)

Smart Communications has launched a new card that allows its subscribers to make calls to their relatives in the United States for only P2.50 per minute.  Hellow is described as the first reloadable international direct dialing (IDD) card which can be used on any Smart or Talk 'N Text mobile phone to make calls to 17 destinations.

While the calls to US, Canada, Guam and Hawaii cost only P2.50 per minute, calls to Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong cost P5. For calls to Japan, Australia, UK, Italy and Thailand, Hellow offers P8 per minute.  Calls to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates cost P10 per minute.  "Hellow rates vary depending on the rates of our partners.  Calls to the Middle East remain very expensive," Kathryn Carag, head of Smart's international services, said.

Tax on Text

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Smart Communications, Inc., the mobile phone unit of PLDT, and Globe Telecom have warned that the consolidated bill approved by the House of Representatives on September 3, 2009 imposing a 5 centavo tax on text and other services will hurt consumers, particularly low-income earners, who are heavy users of these services.  Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, himself, said he opposes the proposal by the House, because this would be passed on to consumers.

The House version contains: Section 4, which seeks to impose a P0.05 tax per SMS (short messaging service), MS (messaging service) and multi-media service (MMS); Section 5, which will imposed P0.05 tax per overseas dispatch, message or conversation transmitted from the Philippines; and Section 6, which orders the National Telecommunication Commission or NTC to acquire a metering device or portal which will interconnect the NTC, BIR and other concerned agencies with mobile phone service providers.

Globe OneCall

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Globe Telecom has introduced a trunkline office phone system that designates mobile phones as extension numbers. "This product is unique to Globe in the Philippines, which is also among the first countries to offer the virtual trunkline service, after the United Kingdom and Denmark," Globe Business head Gil Genio said.

Globe OneCall is a virtual trunkline system, powered by software as a service solutions, that enables employees of a corporation or a small and medium enterprise to collectively stay connected at anytime, with just one landline number.  "Businesses will become even more accessible with OneCall," Genio said. The product is considered an evolution of Globe Duo's service, which combines the mobility of a cellphone and affordability of a landline number.

Manny Aligada, head of Globe Business Corporate and SME segments, said the new product was specially designed to provide mobile connectivity to small and medium enterprises, such as restaurants with delivery, law firms, contractors, sales teams, advertising groups, and other customer-centric organizations.

Sun Cellular gains more subscribers

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Sun Cellular, the wireless brand of the Gokongwei Group's Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. posted a phenomenal growth in its revenues that easily eclipsed those of the two major telecom companies this year.

JG Summit Holdings Inc., the parent firm of Digitel, said its wireless business saw a 62.4 percent year-on-year growth in revenues in the first six months of the year. This was much faster than the 2 percent growth in Globe Telecom's consolidated service revenues amounting to P31.7 billion in the first half and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.'s revenues of P74 billion representing a 3 percent increase from a year ago.

Sun Cellular, which now boasts of 4,800 cell sites nationwide, has been investing $300 million annually for its network expansion since its was formed in 2003.

Teaching Grandma to use the Internet

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Most grandparents long for better relationships with their apos and vice versa.  But in this fast-paced world where everything happens so fast and tasks have to be juggled simultaneously, the weekend lunches with lolos and lolas seem to be happening fewer and far-between, and even the occasional phone call gets buried under a barrage of to-dos.

An informal poll, conducted by Bayan Telecommunications (Bayan) with via Plurk and Facebook social networking sites, revealed that given the chance, 87 percent of young people would want to continue communicating with their grandparents.  The same informal poll revealed that 81 percent of Filipinos are still close to their grandparents, and that 57 percent still visit from time to time.

The emergence of the Internet, which ironically contributed to the fast-pace of this new age, is offering a means through which grandchildren and their grandparents can constantly keep in touch. According to Nielsen’s Net Index Topline Report, the Philippine media landscape has changed so much that internet has slowly encroached upon, and in some cases even overtaken, the popularity of traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. The Nielsen study also predicts that the Philippines will have over 35 million internet users in 2012, from a little over 20 million this year.

Why Internet connection is so slow

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Internet connection in the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries has lost speed since August 12, 2009, following multiple cable faults discovered in two undersea fiber optic cable networks connecting Asia-Pacific countries.

Cuts within the 19,000-kilometer Asia Pacific Cable Network 2, which has a landing station in Batangas, affected speeds of Internet connection in the region.  The top telecom companies in the Philippines use the affected cable network.

The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 also sustained multiple faults.  “These faults have been detected between Singapore and Malaysia and between China and Taiwan . The exact cause of these faults is still unknown,” Philippine Long Distance Telecom Co. (PLDT) said in an advisory.

Sales of Nokia phones in the Philippines

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The Philippines continues to defy the global trend of declining sales in mobile phones in 2009 amid the economic downturn, according to an executive of Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia.
"The global phone market was down 10 percent this year.  In the Philippines, I have not seen any slowdown," Mr. William Hamilton-Whyte, general manager of Nokia Philippines said, although he refused to cite specific growth numbers.
Nokia accounts for more than 50 percent of total mobile phone sales in the Philippines, which continues to be a dynamic market.  However, Mr. Whyte said that because of the global economic downturn, mobile phone users in the Philippines may change their handsets less often.

NTC chief resigns

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After introducing major policy changes in the telecom industry, Mr. Ruel Canobas has resigned as head of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), citing the health condition of his wife as the main reason.  She is suffering from a gynecological ailment, according to reports.  Commissioner Canobas, a lawyer and a former political adviser of President Arroyo, made the announcement, after spearheading major policy changes in the telecom industry amidst complaints from consumers about vanishing prepaid mobile phone credits or electronic load.

In his resignation letter addressed to the president, Mr. Canobas said his wife needed his full attention because of her situation. President Arroyo, who is on a state visit to the United States, has yet to announce the replacement of Mr. Canobas.  While he did not say what was afflicting his wife, Canobas said it is at this critical time that she needs constant medical attention, emotional and spiritual guidance from members of the family.  "It is for this reason that I am voluntarily leaving my present post, he said.

E-load business benefit 1.4 million Filipinos

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Some 1.4 million Filipinos are now involved in the e-load business, or the sale of pre-paid mobile phone credits to subscribers.

Mr. Ramon Isberto, head of the public affairs group of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Smart Communications, said the figure confirmed that telecom companies were in business with ordinary Filipinos. “About 1.4 million micro-entrepreneurs are in the e-loading business,” Isberto said during the launching of the Tipid-Sulit Pinas! advocacy campaign of Talk ‘N Text, the low-cost brand of Smart.

Smart chief wireless advisor Orlando Vea said the 1.4 million micro-entrepreneurs in the e-loading business highlighted the importance of livelihood in the Philippines.

Flagdown rate on mobile phone calls

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There will be a 12-second flag down rate on mobile phone calls in the Philippines beginning 9th August 2009, after the government regulator National Telecommunication Commission or NTC issued a new circular changing the unit of billing for cellular mobile telephone service or CMTS from per-minute charging to six-seconds per-pulse.  It is expected to result in cheaper voice calls.

On 23rd July 2009, th NTC issued Memorandum Circular No. 05-07-2009, which set at six seconds per pulse the maximum unit of billing for the cellular phone calls of both postpaid or prepaid subscribers.  The circular is to take effect by next month, or 15 days after its publication.  It also established a flag down rate equivalent to first two pulses or a period of 12 seconds, which may be charged a minimum rate.

However, no rates have been set yet, as to how much a 12-second voice call will cost. Currently, the cost of voice call from one network to another is P6.50 per minute.

PLDT launches Cignal Digital TV

Average: 3 (1 vote)

Mediaquest Holdings Inc., the media investment arm of the PLDG Group of Companies, launched on July 14, 2009 the Cignal Digital TV, which broadcasts digital and high definition pay TV channels nationwide through satellite.  Cignal Digital TV is the latest subscription-based direct-to-home satellite television service provider using the NSS-11 satellite of New Skies Satellite, according to Fernandez.

Benjie Fernandez, managing director of Mediaquest, said the company has so far invested P650 milion for Cignal, and will spend another P350 million towards the end of the year.

"We aim to reach a market of 2 million households in the Philippines that are not served by cable TV providers," Fernandez said.  Cignal will compete directly with Dream Satellite TV and GSAT, which also broadcasts through satellite.  "What makes us different is that we have quality channels and affordable cost.  We also offer three high definition channels," he said.

Interconnection charges key to reducing telecom rates

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A new consumer advocacy group, Txtmate, claimed that the recent policies issued by the National Telecommunication Commission would not significantly reduce the cost of telecommunication in the country, as this does not tackle the issue of interconnection charges.  Txtmate, which had its origin at the University of the Philippines, said it has now over 2,000 fans in Facebook.

Mr. Marcelino Veloso III, spokesperson of txtmate, said the most important issue, that which could single-handedly revolutionize the mobile industry today, remains ignored, swept under the rug of easy-to-grant demands.  “We refer to interconnection fees, also known as access charges, and the NTC draft proposals to gradually lower the same on both calls and text,” Veloso said noting that the high interconnection rates has resulted in the Philippines having the most expensive mobile call rates in all of Asia.


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