MANILA, Philippines – As Pope Francis attended to various activities in his itinerary, the government has ordered telecommunications firms to temporarily suspend cellular phone services for security purposes.
Starting Thursday evening, upon the Pontiff’s arrival, some mobile phone subscribers in Metro Manila became frustrated as they experienced loss of mobile signal and difficulties in internet connection. Subscribers in Manila, Makati and Pasay were the most affected as cellular sites in those areas were turned off.
“We have monitored earlier that the phone signals will be on and off. However, it is understandable for security reasons,” said Arol Ofianga, one of the affected subscribers.
Mobile phone operators Smart Communications and Globe Telecom explained and apologized to their subscribers.
“In compliance with an order to mobile phone operators from government authorities, the cellular services of Smart and Sun Cellular were temporarily suspended today (Friday) in Metro Manila, including some municipalities of nearby provinces. This was done in the interest of public safety during the ongoing visit of His Holiness Pope Francis,” said Smart head for public affairs Mon Isberto in an official statement.
Isberto asked Smart, Talk N’ Text and Sun subscribers’ patience and understanding if similar situations occur in the next remaining days of the Pope’s visit which is until Monday, January 19.
“We apologize for the temporary interruption of mobile phone services last night which was ordered by government authorities in the interest of public safety. Please bear with us if similar situations occur in the next few days during the Papal visit,” said Smart in its text advisory to subscribers.
Globe, for its part, also appealed to its subscribers
“You may have experienced temporary loss of mobile signal and internet connection during Pope Francis’ arrival, especially in the areas surrounding his motorcade route. This was done in compliance with the directive of the National Telecommunications Commission for security reasons. We hope for your understanding. Thank you,” said Globe in its text blast to subscribers.
Aside from the said orders, upsurge in text, call and data services demand within venues of the Pope’s activities may also overwhelm networks and thus create services disruption. Both companies installed additional cell sites and boosted network capacity to cope with the interruption.
With report from Cyra Moraleda