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Smart Makes First Voice Over LTE Call in Philippines

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PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications and its technology partner Ericsson recently made the first successful mobile call using the Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology in the Philippines.

In a statement Monday, Smart said this development would help further improve the quality of voice calls amid its ongoing LTE deployment in the country.

VoLTE utilizes 4G in transmitting voice calls which requires robust and widespread LTE coverage.

Since LTE — a technology built primarily for data — is very efficient in carrying data traffic, subscribers are assured that calls transmitted over LTE have clear quality with no background noises. Call set-up time, or the amount of time it takes for one mobile phone to connect to another through a voice call, is also drastically reduced with VoLTE.

Mobile users with VoLTE-capable devices to stay on the 4G/LTE network even when making or receiving calls. Thus, subscribers may be in a voice call while actively using high-speed data for other applications.

Currently offered by only a handful of leading operators in the world, VoLTE will also allow Smart subscribers to make video calls without tapping a separate over the top (OTT) application. This ensures direct, global reach similar to mobile phone services today unlike OTTs that require both caller and receiver to be on the same app.

“We are excited to be the first network in the country to successfully use VoLTE, because this technology holds so much promise in terms of improving the quality of mobile service available to our customers. Voice will always be an important mobile application, and VoLTE is the platform of the future which will provide the best customer experience when it comes to voice communications,Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart, said.

“We have completed a number of key improvement projects in the last few months, and these have turned our network into a strong platform for offering advanced, purely digital services, such as VoLTE,” Horn added.

Sean Gowran, Head of Ericsson Philippines and Pacific Islands, said, “This partnership with Smart in making the first live VoLTE capability available in the Philippines helps reinforce Smart’s technology leadership in mobile communications and its commitment to bring the best customer experience to its subscribers in the country. With the introduction of VoLTE, Smart will ensure and further enhance voice quality, while also enabling a broader range of communication capabilities.”

Horn explained that VoLTE will take time to be fully deployed in the country as mobile handsets are either too expensive or manufacturers are still to activate the feature on their existing advanced models.

However, the successful trials conducted by Smart and Ericsson on video over LTE using the built-in calling functionality of a smartphone provides another reason to further ramp up its rollout of LTE across the country.

“The excellent results of these tests provide another reason for us to pursue our aggressive LTE roll-out across the Philippines since ubiquitous LTE coverage is a clear pre-requisite to VoLTE adoption,” according to Horn.

Smart is in the middle of a three-year program to provide LTE coverage in 95 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities. This rapid deployment will make Smart’s LTE service available to 97 percent of the country’s population, or to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

According to Horn, LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable, and reliable Internet services to as many customers as possible, as more LTE devices becomes available in the market. LTE also provides the platform that will easily allow Smart users to step up to even more advanced technologies like LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

Smart was also the first operator to offer LTE-A in the Philippines last year, when it demonstrated the capability of high-speed mobile Internet through Carrier Aggregation in Boracay.

Now available in urban areas like Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and in greater Metro Manila, Smart’s LTE-A delivers peak speeds of over 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

“We are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of our customers, and to deliver our services in the best possible quality. Our initiatives in LTE-A, in VoLTE, and eventually in 5G, will allow us to do just that,” said Horn. (PNA)ABP

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Cebu Landmasters Ends 2017 With Record P4.58-B Reservation Sales, Plans 20 New Developments in 2018

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Homegrown property developer Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) finished the year 2017 with P4.58 billion in total reservation sales, exceeding its target by 13.75 percent and beating the 2016 result by 55.6 percent.

CLI attributed its exceptional performance mainly to newly launched residential projects: 38 Park Avenue (Cebu IT Park) with 745 units, Casa Mira South (Cebu) with 3,200 units, Mivesa Garden Residences (Cebu) with 1,514 units, Mesaverte (Cagayan de Oro) with 798 units, and the 694-unit MesaTierra (Davao City). These projects are now almost fully sold.

The listed company said its sales performance is resounding affirmation that its products respond to the needs of the market and are distributed strategically to the areas where demand is strongest.

“All the projects we launched were well-received by their respective markets making 2017 another banner year,” said CLI chief executive officer Jose Soberano III referring to the firm’s efforts to penetrate new markets such as Davao and Dumaguete and to diversify its products.

The past year saw CLI aggressively venturing into the hospitality industry to increase its inventory to a total of 610 rooms in four years. All CLI hotel projects are located within company-developed mixed-use communities. The 180-room “lyf Cebu City” by Ascott targeting millennial travelers and the 250-room Citadines Riverside Davao were launched in late 2017. They will complement Citadines Cebu City set for completion in 2018. More hotel projects are expected to break ground in 2018.

Cebu Landmasters is confident it will gain even greater momentum this year. The company has targeted reservations sales to hit P7 billion this2018, a massive 52-percent hike from the previous year, as it starts more projects and expands to more territories in Visayas-Mindanao growth centers.

The array of new developments planned for the year include 10 in Cebu (two residential subdivisions, three residential condominiums, three offices, one hotel and one industrial park). Details of these projects will be revealed in the coming months.

CLI has also set its sights on two new territories in the Visayas. Bacolod will play host to two residential condominiums and a hotel, while a residential condo is planned for neighboring Iloilo. Reports from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) show that the Visayas region will zoom ahead of other regions in the next five years and is expected to outpace the projected 7 to 8 percent growth for the Philippines.

The listed property developer also plans to fortify its foothold in Mindanao where it will launch two residential subdivisions and one residential condominium in Cagayan de Oro while a central business district and two residential condominiums will be unveiled in Davao. NEDA reports that in terms of economic growth, Davao ranks third among 18 regions in the country.

The upcoming projects boost CLI’s total number of projects to 66 from 46 last year, as it continues to strengthen its brand in its niche markets. The company’s residential condominiums are mostly designed for the mid-market segment, although it also offers condos for the high-end market.

“In 2018, we will continue to expand our footprint in the Visayas and Mindanao, and develop projects that respond to the growing market in these areas,” said Soberano who is confident CLI will meet its performance targets set for the year and beyond.

It expects that hikes in household income resulting from the newly approved package 1 of the Duterte government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) will be channeled to housing.

Studies (TUCP, 2010) have also shown that around 2 to 2.1 percent of OFW remittances are channeled to housing. Total remittances in 2017 were seen to hit US$33 billion (World Bank, 2017). This means that at least US$693 million or about P35 billion would be used for shelter requirements.

CLI also expects that government spending in infrastructure will unlock land values outside Metro Manila and stimulate business in the countryside as the Duterte administration pushes for investments outside of the country’s capital.

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Ferrero to Acquire Nestle’s U.S. Confectionary Business

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Image Source: greatist.com; logo from Vectorlogo4u.com

The Ferrero Group and its affiliated companies (“Ferrero”), a global confectionary group, announced a definitive agreement pursuant to which it will acquire the U.S. confectionary business from Nestle for $2.8 billion in cash. Nestle’s U.S. confectionary business generated sales of approximately $900 million in 2016.

Ferrero will acquire more than 20 American brands with a rich heritage and strong awareness, including iconic chocolate brands such as Butterfinger®, BabyRuth®, 100Grand®, Raisinets®, Wonka® and the exclusive right to the Crunch® brand for confectionary and certain categories in the U.S., as well as sugar brands such as SweeTarts®, LaffyTaffy®, and Nerds®.

With this transaction, Ferrero will become the third-largest confectionary company in the U.S. market where it is best known for Tic Tac® breath mints, Ferrero Rocher® pralines, Nutella® hazelnut spreads, the Fannie May and Harry London chocolate brands, and the Ferrara Candy Company, which was recently acquired by a Ferrero affiliated company and whose portfolio of brands includes Trolli®, Brach’s® and Black Forest® Gummies.

Ferrero will acquire Nestle’s U.S. manufacturing facilities in Bloomington, Franklin Park and Itasca, Illinois, and the confectionary-related employees, and will continue to operate through the offices in Glendale, California, as well as from its other current locations in Illinois and in New Jersey.

Giovanni Ferrero, Executive Chairman of the Ferrero Group, said, “We are very excited about the acquisition of Nestle’s U.S. confectionary business, which has an outstanding portfolio of iconic brands with rich histories and tremendous awareness. In combination with Ferrero’s existing U.S. presence, including the recently acquired Fannie May Confections Brands and the Ferrara Candy Company, we will have substantially greater scale, a broader offering of high-quality products to customers across the chocolate snack, sugar confectionary and seasonal categories, and exciting new growth opportunities in the world’s largest confectionary market. We look forward to welcoming the talented team from Nestle to Ferrero and to continuing to invest in and grow all of our products and brands in this key strategic and attractive market.”

“Our commitment to deliver value to the North American consumers and customers will be strongly enhanced by the arrival in our portfolio of such powerful confectionary and chocolate brands,” said Lapo Civiletti, CEO of the Ferrero Group.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close around the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Credit Suisse Securities, Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP and Lazard served as advisors to Ferrero. (Ferrero)

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Globe myBusiness Helps SMEs Become Future Proof

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Participants of the Globe myBusiness workshop for Boracay SMEs

Globe myBusiness has brought its valuable expertise and tried-and-tested products and solutions to the country’s favorite tourist destination, Boracay, to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become future-proof.

The workshop, dubbed as Globe myBusiness Digital Tools to Future-Proof Your Business, centered on the most prominent industries currently flourishing in Boracay such as tourism, hotels and accommodations, restaurants and food establishments, and retail.

In the four-day event, entrepreneurs, managers and various other staff members from all over the island were able to pick up a wealth of knowledge that allowed them to better understand technology and what it can do for them.

Derrick Heng, Senior Advisor for Globe myBusiness said: “Employing technology in business isn’t instantaneous. Rather, it’s a step-by-step process. It may take years for a business to fully maximize its digital potential, but the results are definitely worth the challenge. Globe myBusiness is here to assist entrepreneurs every step of the way.”

As a first takeaway from the workshop, the participants learned about the importance of social media which is the simplest way to use technology for business. Through social media, entrepreneurs can spread word about their business, get feedback, and contact their clients or customers in the blink of an eye.

“Digital marketing was the most important lesson for me, that you really need to make the most out of it through social media,” said Lourdes A. Ramirez of Secret Garden Boracay.

June Myrrh Dueñas and Dane Aldeguer of Isla Chicas Travel Consultancy added: “We understand that everything’s online, and everything’s on mobile phones, and we need to be a part of everything that’s happening. We have to grow with the changes, with technology.”

At the same time, Globe myBusiness educated the participants about different business solutions that can help them sell online such as Shopify; boost efficiency through the Gsuite online suite of productivity tools that can be used anywhere and on any device; and advertise their business like the Adblast targeted texts to consumers, among others.

“The workshop was very helpful for me. The things discussed were added nutrients for what I need for my business, like customer advocacy, offline tools, online tools … they’re very helpful because I discovered what else I need in order to improve the business,” said Jeyna Azugi of Team Sir George Salon.

Digital technology, however, has to be embraced not only by the decision-makers but the whole team for it to make a bigger impact.

“We learned a lot that could help us with our future plans for the business. We are most interested in the concept of GCash. Our consideration now is how we’ll train our employees, because they’re already doing things a certain way, so it’ll be a [challenge] helping them adapt to technology,” said Flory Jhen and Flory Vhel Alvarez of Shinyou.

However, technology only emphasizes what business owners already know and live by, that it is quality that still gets the customer. Thus, technology has to work side by side with current sales, service and marketing strategies in order for it to work.

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Capiz to Push Native Chicken Raising

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Native chicken production will be introduced by the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) this year as a provincial government initiative designed particularly to provide livelihood opportunity to identified island and hinterland residents.

This was disclosed by Gov. Antonio A. Del Rosario in a Jan. 9 meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ,noting that the livelihood project in support to food security will be an alternative source of income among the farmers.

“Poultry and livestock are less prone to calamities that’s why only insignificant damages to animals were monitored,” Del Rosario noted during the PDRRMC meeting, referring to the effects of tropical depression Agaton in the province.

For his part, PVO chief Dr. Leonel Abordo said that a supplier from Panay Island is being contracted for the project that will initially supply about a thousand heads of two – month old chicks to would – be beneficiaries.

“We opted for native chicken because of its resistance to diseases and possibility of being raised organically,” he said.

The project is also aligned with the Philippine Rural Development Project which identified the province as suitable for chicken production.

It will be rolled out to about 300 farmers who will each receive a set of two young hens and a roster when the chicken will be made available by the supplier, Abordo noted. (JSC/AAL/PIA6 Capiz)

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