Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) bagged the Best Crisis Response Award at the 2020 Asia Communication Awards (ACA), along with a joint citation with network partner Ericsson under the Network Automation category.
The wireless subsidiary of the Philippines’ largest integrated telecommunications company PLDT Inc. (PLDT) was lauded for its #StaySmart COVID-19 Response Program. “The company thoroughly impressed ACA judges with its efforts to keep Filipinos connected under the banner of the #StaySmart initiative,” Harry Baldock of Total Telecom said during the virtual announcement.
“Crisis Response is a very competitive category, with so many entrants going above and beyond to help their customers during this very difficult time,” Baldock added.
Under the #StaySmart COVID-19 Response Program, Smart ramped up efforts to keep customers, partners and frontliners safe and connected. The company worked with local government units to roll out mobile stores in areas affected by community quarantines at the onset of the pandemic. This allowed prepaid mobile and broadband customers to stay connected amid the health crisis. The service likewise provided sustained livelihood opportunities for Smart’s sales partners.
To help ease the financial burden of its customers during the COVID crisis, Smart implemented a six-month interest and penalty-free installment payment program for the outstanding monthly bills of its postpaid mobile users.
Smart also provided cashless and contactless self-care channels, to keep the public safe from the virus. Customers were also given access to online payment services which allowed them to purchase products and devices, and to pay bills, at their convenience.
“By providing reliable and relevant digital services, Smart helped Filipinos keep in touch, stay informed, protected and productive, whether they are at home, at work, or at the frontlines amid this health crisis,” said Smart Chief Executive Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio, who was also shortlisted under ACA’s CEO of the Year category. Smart was nominated in all four categories that it entered, including Best Social Contribution for Digital Farmers Program and Best Network Transformation Initiative.
Smart was also jointly awarded with Ericsson under the Network Automation Category, for deploying the ICT service provider's Site Analytics support services on a large scale. With easy-to-use mobile applications that collect and correlate real-time network data, field technicians can work remotely and independently, while making faster informed decisions.
"Smart and Ericsson's Network Automation Award is for an AI-powered site analytics solution that enables the operator to effectively isolate, predict, and prevent network issues. This solution allows a shift in network operations from reactive to preemptive, resulting in a 20% decrease in the number of monthly site visits," Baldock described.
Launched in 2011 by London-based industry publication Total Telecom, ACA recognizes the region's leading communication service providers and telecom operators. Smart's previous ACA wins include Best Social Contribution for School-in-a-Bag, Best Digital Services Provider, and Best Brand Campaign for Welcome Change, which communicated Smart’s digital pivot anchored on a $1-billion digital transformation program with parent company PLDT.