PLDT, Smart conk out in 4 Mindanao cities

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/07 January) —Internet and cellular phone services of telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and its subsidiary, Smart Communications Inc., bogged down on Saturday in four major cities of Mindanao.

Affected were Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos and Koronadal cities.

In Koronadal and General Santos, cellular calls and text messaging through Smart were interrupted almost at the same time that its PLDT’s DSL service bogged down. The glitch started at around 9 a.m. and was only restored by 3 p.m., a company statement said.

Smart subscribers in General Santos said they could make calls but couldn’t send text messages.

In Davao City, service was disrupted since early morning and was only restored by 4:30p.m.

“Our services were temporarily disrupted due to two cable breaks in our transmission network in Maramag (Bukidnon) and Butuan (City). We immediately dispatched repair teams to these areas. We were able to restore normal service by 3pm. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our valued subscribers,” Ramon Isberto, public affairs of Smart, said in a statement.

Repeated calls to PLDT’s 171 hotline were a test of patience, with people on the other end of the line taking so long to answer.

A recorded voice message instead said: “Your call is important to us. Our service representatives are assisting other calls at the moment. Please stay on the line until our representative becomes available to take your call.”

Also, calls to the business offices of PLDT in this city (083-520-0888) and nearby General Santos City (083-554-3003/554-3000)—to report and seek an explanation on the problem—went unanswered.

PLDT has become the dominant telecommunications company in the country after it acquired the 51.55% stake of Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings, Inc. in the Digital Communications Philippines Inc. (Digitel). The share-swap deal reportedly amounted to P69.2 billion.

Digitel is the 100% owner of Digitel Mobile Philippines, which owns the Sun Cellular brand, popular among cellular phone users for its unlimited call and text promos.

The breakdown in Smart cellular phone service angered not only subscribers, but also retailers of prepaid load.

A storeowner expressed dismay after she had to turn down a customer who wanted to buy a P200 amount of prepaid load, because it couldn’t be loaded to his number.

At noontime, a local radio station also reported that it was bombarded with complaints from Smart subscribers who were affected by the service disruption.

On the other hand, rival Globe Telecommunications Inc.’s subscribers have not complained of any service disruptions in the area. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)