PLDT, Smart enhance Internet speeds in Sorsogon, push for digital tourism

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There is more to Sorsogon than whale shark watching in Donsol, and Gov. Robert Lee Rodrigueza wants to make it easy for visitors to discover the province’s several other attractions.

With this goal in mind, the governor has entered into a partnership with PLDT and wireless subsidiary Smart Communications to enhance network capabilities and implement the digital tourism program in the province.

“Every municipality and city in Sorsogon has something to offer our visitors. We have Matnog with its pink sand beach, Bulusan Lake, surfing as an emerging attraction, mangrove plantations, river cruises, and many more,” Rodrigueza said during the signing of a memorandum of agreement with PLDT and Smart held recently.

He added that he wants to further improve the province’s emerging tourism industry by making information about its destinations accessible to a wider audience through digital means.

Faster connectivity speeds

PLDT and Smart will complement the province’s tourism initiatives with faster connectivity speeds and digital solutions, according to John Y. Palanca, vice president and regional head for consumer business–customer development.

“We are rolling out LTE and LTE-Advanced in Sorsogon. Our investments here are no different from our investments in dense urban areas,” Palanca said during the MOA signing. “LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. Here in Sorsogon, it’s already upgraded to LTE-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.”

With PLDT also laying out 84 kilometers of fiber throughout the province, network improvements would result in world-class speeds for both fixed and wireless connectivity, said Palanca.

PLDT and Smart will also implement digital tourism in Sorsogon, which will make use of today’s most ubiquitous tool—the mobile phone—to provide users with important travel, cultural, and heritage information.

Palanca added that an integral part of digital tourism, started in 2011 by PLDT and Smart in collaboration with Cebu-based startup InnoPub Media, is partnerships with key stakeholders that allow the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources.

“It’s not just about providing the service to our customers—it’s about uplifting the quality of life of the Filipinos. This partnership with the Sorsogon province allows us to reach out to the community and make sure everybody becomes part of the digital world,” he said.

Digital tourism program

InnoPub Media founder Max Limpag said the program will include a mobile app as guide to travel in the province and interactive markers for its cultural and heritage monuments.

He added that people go online using their phones throughout the travel process, from getting inspiration and booking hotel rooms and plane tickets to checking out a place’s top sights and experiences. Sorsogon can also receive feedback and blast promotions using the travel app.

Another component of digital tourism turns regular markers into interactive ones that allow the download of more information about a cultural or historical destination or experience through QR code markers and NFC stickers.

Rodrigueza said the digital tourism program will make information about Sorsogon’s rich heritage easily accessible to locals and tourists and improved connectivity will boost such local government initiatives as disaster preparedness.