MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN): Food, vitamins, alcohol-based sanitizers, toilet paper — and the internet.
These are just some of the things Filipinos deem the most essential to their survival of the pandemic, with the last one arguably one of the most vital things to their everyday existence; after all, a stable internet connection keeps everyone safe at home, since it basically fulfills all work, school and entertainment needs.
Data from Globe Telecom, Inc., pretty much sums up how reliant Filipinos have become on the internet: during the second quarter of the year, at the height of the lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19, the company’s revenues from subscriptions to home broadband services went up 19 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Mobile data revenues reached P35.8 billion in the first six months of 2020 with mobile data traffic surging by 45 per cent to 1,106 petabytes. And with many going cashless with their payments, also a precautionary measure against Covid-19, it seems one of the telco’s mobile services is becoming indispensable to many Pinoys: mobile wallet GCash.
According to Globe, the home-based lifestyle has seen the doubling of GCash registrations every month; and a 900-per cent growth in terms of usage for online payments, online bank cash-ins and send money services.
Transactions on the mobile wallet platform have also revealed evolving digital consumption trends, such as:
• The noncontact revolution. As the lockdown suspended movement, people turned to online channels to accomplish their errands, like banking and buying groceries.
• Stay-at-home entertainment. Whether it’s through videos on YouTube, shows and movies on Netflix, or mobile games, people are finding ways to keep themselves entertained without having to leave the house.
• Virtual communities. Filipinos may be physically distancing from one another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to stay connected — and they continue to do so through online group chats, or social media communities.
• Battling financial volatilty. The economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has boosted interest in financial literacy and wealth management, as well as products that promote financial security (many of which are available on GCash).
Globe has taken note of these trends — and how these all depend on an internet connection that won’t fail Filipinos.
That’s why, according to Ernest L. Cu, Globe president and CEO, it has been their priority, since Day 1 of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), to ensure that everyone stays connected despite challenges brought about by the global health crisis.
“While we expect revenues for full year 2020 to decline given the impact of community quarantine restrictions, we do see growth opportunities on the home broadband front and ICT (information and communications technology) space.
"Higher demand for internet connectivity and cloud solutions are expected, as companies have been forced to embrace remote working for employees and to fast-track their digitalisation efforts. Mobile data and digital solutions will also increase traction, with more customers adopting a digital lifestyle in the new normal, ” says Cu.
During ECQ, this commitment was seen in the way Globe quickly addressed operational challenges.
A work-from-home with critical skeleton workforce scheme was put in place in order to keep employees safe while maintaining network services essential to support customer needs.
Globe also provided food allowance, transportation, accommodation, insurance and medical expense assistance to its critical skeleton workforce who kept backend operating systems, including the Globe network, fully operational, especially during ECQ.
In May, Globe started weekly rapid antibody testing of all its critical skeleton workforce.
he second wave of employee testing was done in June to ensure that both the workforce and the company’s stakeholders remain protected from Covid-19 spread and infection.
Since then, the company’s testing strategy has focused on systematic testing based on daily employee health declarations.
Globe has also equipped its critical workforce with its GC19 app, which triggers red flags prior to entry into Globe’s offices.
With the reopening of Globe Stores on May 18, the company continues to strictly adhere to the government’s health protocols.
An even more outright display of commitment to serving the Filipino nation is Globe’s continued network expansion amid the pandemic.
For the first half of the year, the company poured in P20.9 billion for this, 10 per cent higher than last year.
In 2019, Globe was the first telco in Southeast Asia to launch 5G, with the introduction of its AirFiber broadband for Globe at Home subscribers. Then came more 5G services for mobile postpaid subscribers, as well as 5G-capable devices.
Steadfast in its resolve to provide better network coverage to Filipinos, Globe, in August, announced that 5G is now available to its postpaid subscribers in the following areas: Bonifacio Global City, Makati and Ortigas central business districts, Rockwell Center, and strategic areas along Edsa and C5.
All these customers need to do is to ensure they are on a Globe LTE or LTE sim and have a 5G-enabled mobile phone. The best part: no additional fees will be charged for customers to enjoy this lightning-fast connection.
What they need to work on now, says Cu, is getting more cell sites up and running.
As of third quarter of last year, the Philippines had 17,850 towers servicing 76 million subscribers — which meant one site catered to over 4,200 people, a far cry from the numbers of other neighbouring countries, such as Indonesia (1,554 internet users per cell site), Vietnam (711 internet users per cell site), China (408 internet users per cell site) and India (1,002 internet users per cell site).
Still, Globe expresses optimism that the recently signed Joint Memorandum Circular 01 s. 2020, spearheaded by the Department of Information and Communications Technology with other national agencies to fast-track builds of telco towers, “will finally lead the way to more robust connectivity in the country, and provide internet services to every Filipino, ” since the memorandum will allow streamlining of permits to reduce processing time to a maximum of 20 days (previously, securing permits would take as long as eight months).
Recently securing additional 190 permits from 85 local government units, the company is already targeting cell site builds in different parts of the country, including Aklan, Albay, Batangas, Bohol, Bulacan, Cebu, Davao del Sur, Iloilo, Laguna, Metro Manila, Maguindanao, Negros Occidental, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Zamboanga, Sulu, Capiz, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Palawan, North Cotabato, Leyte, Bukidnon, Benguet and Zambales, until the end of the third quarter of 2020.
And all this work will push through, says Cu, even with just the critical workforce in place, and despite persistent quarantine measures.
“Even in the face of growing uncertainties in this time of the pandemic, our unwavering commitment and focus to better serve our customers and the nation’s needs will keep us ahead through these difficult times, ” Cu says.
Sept 17 marks Globe’s annual 0917 celebration where the company recognises and gives back to its loyal customers through various rewards and treats.
On this year’s National G Day, millions of Globe customers will be able to enjoy the lineup of activities including an online music fest, a mobile gaming tournament and a major raffle draw. To know more about this year’s National G Day follow www.Facebook.com/GlobePH and download the Globe Rewards app and Globe At Home app. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
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