As more customers pivot online due to the pandemic, the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are enhancing their capability to deliver customer-centric service to stay relevant to customers.
“Our job is to make sure that we continue to provide superior data network and most relevant content, to make the experience of our customers better than anybody can offer,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications president and chief executive and PLDT chief revenue officer. “This pandemic has driven us to become fitter and faster as an organization,” he said.
Panlilio said that these customer-centric initiatives include enabling passion points of customers. Recently, Smart signed Grammy-nominated music act BTS to headline its banner ‘Live Smarter, Live with Purpose’ 2021 campaign. The partnership intends to showcase BTS’ support of Smart’s goal to inspire the Filipino youth to live their lives with passion and purpose.
To further support their customers’ passions, Smart last year expanded its suite of GIGA offers by launching GIGA Pro, Smart’s biggest prepaid data pack for heavy data users; GIGA Work and GIGA Study, which provide data allocations for work collaboration tools and learning apps, specifically tailored for employees’ online productivity needs and students’ online education needs; and GIGA K-Video, which allows Smart prepaid subscribers to enjoy ad-free streaming and unlimited downloads of K-dramas via the VIU Premium video streaming platform.
These are additions to the GIGA Video, GIGA Stories, GIGA Music and GIGA Games offers, which come with data allocations dedicated to customer passions, plus open access data for other online activities.
Last year, Smart also launched its GigaLife App for prepaid and postpaid subscribers to enable them to manage their subscriptions more seamlessly. Smart also unveiled its new GigaPoints rewards program, which offers a simpler and easier way to earn, accumulate, and redeem exclusive treats through the GigaLife App.
Acknowledging that the changes in customer habits and the shift to online are here to stay, Panlilio said that services provided by telcos like PLDT and Smart will remain extremely relevant. “It is highly unlikely that the shift in consumer behavior towards digital would revert to how it was before,” he said.
“As both personal and business communications shift to online, practically all other aspects of life are now digitally powered,” Panlilio said. “Our recovery from this pandemic will not spell a return to the old normal.”
To support the delivery of these services to their fixed and wireless customers in the New Normal, PLDT recently announced that it was prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion in capital expenditures this year.
Forming a big part of this capex are PLDT and Smart’s nationwide expansion of their fixed and wireless networks to elevate the country’s telecommunications industry and deliver world-class services.
As of December 2020, PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country, comprised of more than 429,000 kilometers. This fiber infrastructure supports Smart’s mobile networks, which now covers 96% of the population and is available in 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities.
Smart increased the number of its base stations to over 59,000 at the end of 2020 and rolled out additional 5G sites as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.
The PLDT Group’s investments in capital expenditures totaled Php 260 billion from 2015 to 2019.