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NTC, Philippines fast-tracks telecom service restoration after Typhoon Ulysses

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), following instructions from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) ordered all public telecommunications companies, through a memorandum dated 12 November, to fast-track the repair and restoration of telecommunication services in areas severely affected by Typhoon Ulysses.

According to a press release, the NTC also directed the companies to accelerate the mobilisation and transport of their respective technical or service personnel and equipment to the affected areas and to deploy free call and free charging stations in strategic areas.

Likewise, the companies were also reminded to coordinate with the local government units (LGU) and observe strict health protocols in the performance of these instructions. Public telecommunication companies are to provide the commission, every six hours, updates on restoration activities of their respective networks and facilities, as well as a timeline for the full restoration of services.

On 10 November, the NTC directed all public telecommunications companies to ensure a sufficient number of technical and support personnel and standby generators with extra fuel, tools, and spare equipment in areas forecasted to be affected by the typhoon.

“The management of disasters is not just about our ability to repair damages, not just about resiliency—it is also about damage mitigation and preparedness for a quick response. This is why, as much as possible, we want to be proactive in our approach—we instructed public telecommunications companies to prepare for repairs even before the typhoon hits,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

Similarly, as the telcos were instructed to prepare, DICT, as chair of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), issued a memorandum addressed to member agencies and organisations to request them to monitor communication channels within their respective areas of responsibility for possible deployment and mobilization of communications assets and resources relative to Typhoon Ulysses.

In relation, DICT had equipment and manpower complement ready to step in to support the members of the NDRRMC and to provide emergency communications services to the public. Particularly, Flyaway VSAT (very-small-aperture terminal), satellite phones, HF (high frequency), and VHF (very high frequency) radios, IP (internet protocol) Radio Satellite Dish, access points, routers, and generator sets were on standby. Likewise, the free Wi-Fi for All programme field team has been made ready to restore Free Wi-Fi sites in typhoon-hit areas.

After the recent Goni typhoon, which OpenGov Asia had reported on earlier, DICT facilitated information and communication services in Catanduanes, Albay, and other devastated areas.

To aid the affected areas, DICT’s Albay Provincial Office is offering free internet and charging services to Albayanos. Their office is located in Legazpi City. Individuals can avail of the free services within the vicinity, provided they observe proper health protocols.

The forecasting, planning, and management of critical events help authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property. Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other. According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, this approach can create duplication in information and processes, data contradictions, and, when unchecked, could lead to loss of life and damages.

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