Philippine Air Force to build cybersecurity center in new deal with local tycoon

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be building a new cybersecurity center with funding from local tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan.

Pangilinan, President and CEO of Philippine conglomerate PLDT Group, will be building the MVP Cybersecurity Center for Excellence to enhance the PAF’s ability to counter cyberattacks.

This new facility can also be seen as part of the Philippine government’s digitalisation effort. PAF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Aristides Galang, said that the center will house PAF’s other security departments, including the security operations center, the network operations center, and PAF’s cyber range.

Pangilinan’s PLDT Group is the parent company of Smart Telecommunications, one of the two largest telecommunications service providers in the country.

“We are one with the government in ensuring that our country is safe from cyber threats. We look forward to more engagements with the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on this front,” said Pangilinan.

This is not the first collaboration between PAF and PLDT. In August 2020, both parties signed an agreement that saw PLDT’s Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) provide cybersecurity training to military officers in the PAF.

PLDT to install two fiber landing stations in 2021

Philippine conglomerate PLDT has announced plans to install two cable landing stations to increase network connectivity in the country.

The company will be executing the project via its telecommunications subsidiary, Smart Communications. 

Exact locations of the new cable landing stations have not been confirmed, but PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan assured that his company is making significant investments in the sector.

“I think that’s something a single fixed broadband operator cannot do. We can do that because we are using fiber, not only for fiber-to-the-home, but also for mobile and for enterprise customers,” Mr. Panglinan said.

PLDT already has three cable landing stations and at least two more are set for next year. These are intended to improve Smart’s wireless networks like LTE and 5G, as well as connections to their data centers.

The ongoing expansion work will eventually extend PLDT’s fiber footprint by 81,000 km, which will be 31,000km more than the amount in 2020, and 50,000km more than the amount in 2021.

PLDT’s efforts to connect more Filipinos

Aside from the new cable landing stations, earlier this month PLDT and Smart revealed their goal to increase broadband links in the Philippines from 72,000 links to 100,000 links a month.

According to local media reports, PLDT and Smart currently have the most extensive and advanced digital networks in the country, with a total of 395,000 kilometers in coverage. 

The new cable landing station will thus add to the conglomerate’s sizable network reach, providing greater connectivity for Philippine citizens.

“5G without fiber will not work, and therefore we have a high synergy between the various networks. In the last couple of years, we have deployed the strategy called ‘follow the fiber.’ Wherever there is fiber, we can connect any business, fiber-to-the-home, fiber-to-the-enterprise and fiber-to-the-base-station,” added Panglinan. 

PLDT and Smart are also part of a network of 16 international cable systems, including the recently announced high-performance submarine cable by international consortium Asia Direct Cable.

By Jie Yee Ong, Tech Reporter

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Philippines telecom market powers through in spite of COVID-19

In April, W.Media reported that due to COVID-19, the Philippines’ newest telecom company, DITO Telecommunity, was forced to delay its launch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fixed-line market in the Philippines is said to be underdeveloped with low penetration in the broadband market due to low investment in digital infrastructure and rapid development of mobile technologies. 

But today, the Philippines could still see a silver lining in spite of difficult circumstances, as interest in improving digital infrastructures and building new data centers is rising. 

Two of the largest telecom companies, PDLT and Globe Telecom, are making continual moves to upgrade existing infrastructure.

PDLT will continue to accelerate its network modernisation program, shifting from copper to fibre, and their subsidiary Smart Communications teamed up with Google to deploy Wi-Fi hubs across the country. 

Smart and Globe have also pledged to participate in network sharing with DITO, signalling a willingness to speed up network rollouts like 5G and break up the long-standing duopoly held by PDLT and Globe.

DITO’s entrance to the Filipino market held similar ambitions, which is why it is also predicted that market competition in the country is expected to intensify from 2021, less than four months away.

In other exciting news, a new subsea cable, JUPITER, that links the Philippines with Japan and the U.S. has gained approval from the U.S. government and will be completed by 2021.

However, the pandemic crisis has left its mark on the telecom industry, with supply chains halted and job cuts slowing down construction of infrastructures, postponing the rollout of 5G and halting consumer demand for services. 

As to how Filipino consumers would respond to market competition, a reduced but steady and positive growth is predicted. This is because COVID-19 has proven that access to general communication is crucial to live life under the ‘new normal’ where technology is needed to support home-working.

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PLDT and Philippine Air Force team up to train ‘cyber warriors’ against security threats

PLDT, a major telecommunications company in the Philippines, has signed an agreement with the Philippine Air Force to provide cybersecurity training for their ‘cyber warriors’.

Along with subsidiaries, ePLDT and Smart Communications, PLDT Group will enhance the military service’s cyber operations by upgrading the security of their digital infrastructures using ePLDT’s Security Operation Center, which provides the Philippine Air Force with their own dashboard to monitor cybersecurity operations.

“We are one with the government in ensuring that our country is safe from cyber threats,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT chair and CEO.

The training will take place through lectures and hands-on management and operation sessions, working side-by-side with PLDT’s cybersecurity team.

This agreement is the latest in a line of efforts by PLDT to improve the country’s cybersecurity following the launch of a Cybersecurity Council chaired by Mr. Pangilinan to protect enterprises in the infrastructure and telecommunications space from the rising tide of cyber threats.

A first by a Philippine conglomerate, the Council complies with the Data Privacy Act and Cybercrime Prevention Act in the Philippines, requiring companies to safeguard customer data.

The Council is composed of representatives from Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Maynilad Water Services, Manila Electric, Philex Mining, Makati Medical Center, MediaQuest Holdings, Metropac Movers, PLDT Global, MVP Rewards and Keralty Philippines.

PLDT and Smart Communications also became involved in the Asian Institute of Management’s Cybersecurity Executive Course to help organisations manage cyber threats and build cyber-resilient infrastructures.

Securing smooth work-from-home arrangements during the pandemic

This week, PLDT’s information and communications technology arm, ePLDT, introduced a new cloud service to provide a simplified and secure platform to remotely manage desktops and cloud applications during work-from-home arrangements.

The Virtual Desktop solution aims to provide employees with secure access to corporate data and applications authorised by the company.

“Our aim at ePLDT is to help businesses accelerate their digital transformation, especially today as they navigate through the pandemic,” said Jovy Hernandez, the President and CEO of ePLDT.

The Virtual Desktop uses Microsoft Azure to deliver the security and simplified management promised by the cloud service.

“Our focus throughout this unprecedented time has been on making sure our customers, partners and communities around the world remain connected, productive and secure,” said Andres Ortola, the Country General Manager of Microsoft Philippines.

ePLDT has currently deployed 1,000 units of their Virtual Desktop solution within the PLDT group to allow a smooth and secure work-from-home arrangement.

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