Local telecommunications providers are offering free SMS and call services in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan)
The two top carriers Smart Communications and Globe Telecom released their respective advisories on their free service in Leyte Province, one of the hardest hit areas.
The two carriers said they will be offering free SMS services for five days in Tacloban City, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Leyte, Northern Cebu, and Samar. Sun Cellular, an affiliate of Smart is also offering the same.
From November 13 to 17, subscribers can get free 25 daily SMS "bundles" across all networks including international SMS.
For free calls, calling stations in some affected areas were also set up. Individuals can go to the calling stations and can also charge their mobile phones.
Relief and rescue operations have been hampered by the lack of communication facilities in the affected areas. Such is the devastation of the typhoon that a number of normally sturdy cell sites and auxiliary communications systems have been damaged or rendered immobilized.
Hopefully, with the restoration of cell sites and the free communications services, rescue and relief operations can proceed much faster.
The move is indeed a welcome development, despite a recent report related to the restoration of cell sites which drew flak from Filipino netizens a few days ago.
This follows a recent controversial news report (which has since been removed) implying that the two telcos were competing on their restoration efforts and coverage. Aside from the re-establishments of cell site towers, the report also purportedly highlighted that one carrier was able to set up an LTE mobile station ahead of its competitor.
Rescue and recovery operations are still underway despite daunting difficulties in communications, transportation, and power utilities in some of the remote towns that badly need help.