Despite the disruptions and uncertainties caused by the COVID pandemic, PLDT Global Corporation (PGC), the international subsidiary of the Philippines’ largest integrated telco, PLDT, went full speed ahead with various initiatives to better serve the growing and urgent needs of Overseas Filipinos and international carriers and enterprises.
“This challenging period gave us the important opportunity to innovate more and come up with fresh solutions that serve our customers in a simpler, faster, and more responsive way,”said Katrina Luna-Abelarde, president and chief executive at PLDT Global. “It pushed us to do more with less and work harder with our partners to create a new and better normal for all our customers.”
The Orange wholesale arm, International Carriers, has signed a partnership deal with PLDT for international voice aggregation services to deliver better quality of service to millions of customers globally. As the preferred aggregator for voice traffic, Orange handles all global inbound traffic terminating on the PLDT and Smart network.
“This partnership with Orange is part of a broader PLDT Group program to improve customer experiences in and outside of the Philippines. Our goal is to consistently deliver the best call experience for overseas Filipinos and to all our customers worldwide,” said Abelarde, who also serves as first vice president and head of PLDT-Smart International and Carrier Business Group.
Also, PLDT Global strengthened its partnership with Japan-based carrier SoftBank Corp. (SoftBank) to provide stable and secure internet services for small, medium, and large enterprise clients in Japan through the SmartInternet Suite Ether service. Abelarde shared that she believes internet connectivity is the foundation of the digital economy. “We have been focusing on supporting digital ecosystems needed by our customers and we are excited to partner with SoftBank to achieve this purpose.”
Promoting industry resiliency
PLDT Global also teamed up with London-based Capacity Media for a special series of webinars on carrier resiliency and future-proofing networks. This is part of the firm’s initiative to provide other carriers and international enterprises with relevant insights for achieving business sustainability amid the challenges faced in 2020.
“This was a welcome opportunity for us to share our experience, and at the same time, learn from global industry leaders at a time when we are all learning to do business in the next normal,” said Edith Gomez, PLDT Global vice president and head of Carrier Business. “Several months under quarantine have made us think of better ways to reach and serve our customers. As part of the Philippines’ largest integrated telco, we understand the growing demand of our customers for data connectivity and digital services, as the world shifts to doing things online.”
Caring for our OFWs
Among the hardest hit during the pandemic are the millions of Filipinos who are working and living overseas. Many have lost their livelihood, while others are unable to go home to their families in the Philippines due to travel restrictions and country lockdowns. To help Filipinos worldwide in this time of need, PLDT Global ramped up its programs and partnerships to help the country’s modern heroes and their families back home.
Just recently, PGC has teamed up with Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) to provide livelihood opportunities for overseas Filipino workers who have been repatriated through the Balik Pinas program.
Balik Pinas, launched by the Philippine Coca-Cola bottling arm, has been providing former OFWs with opportunities to be part of the Coca-Cola family as distributors, wholesalers, or community resellers. Through PGC’s mobile app Free Bee, Coca-Cola will be able to reach more Filipinos seeking to restart their lives in the Philippines.
“The pandemic has challenged us in many ways, especially our kababayans abroad who have found themselves without jobs due to massive layoffs or business closures of institutions that they were part of,” said Albert V. Villa-Real, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at PLDT Global. “This partnership with Coca-Cola and their Balik Pinas program allows us to help OFWs restart their lives and rise above the challenges brought by the health crisis.”
During the Christmas period, keeping in touch with loved ones became even more rewarding for global Filipinos with PGC’s Virtual Free Bee Day. Lucky OFWs who used the Free Bee app from December 12 to 23, 2020 received in-app notifications containing gifts from Free Bee and its partners Philippine Airlines, Viu, Grab, and SunLife.
“We want to be able to show our support for the overseas Filipino communities by providing a way for them to experience Paskong Pinoy wherever in the world they may be,” said Villa-Real.
Noreen del Pozo, an OFW based in Hong Kong is among our kababayans who were looking forward to travel back home in time for the holidays. An avid user of Free Bee app, Noreen won the grand prize of a roundtrip ticket from Hong Kong during the Virtual Free Bee Day. Her husband, Joselito shares that they now have something to look forward to this 2021, “I was very happy when I heard the news! And our kids are happier because they are very excited to be with their mother again.”
True to its commitment, Free Bee keeps OFWs close to home beyond international calls. “We want to strengthen bonds between families and help them play an active role in each other’s lives no matter how far apart they are,” said Rianna Trinidad, Product Head at PLDT Global. “We are grateful for our partners who share our passion for keeping Filipinos close to home and help us spread the holiday cheer on Free Bee Day.” said Trinidad.