THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a directive to public telecommunications entities and internet service providers to prepare for a surge in internet traffic during the holidays.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba said in a memorandum dated Dec. 17 that internet traffic is “projected to increase considerably” during the Christmas season.

“Despite the decrease in (coronavirus) cases, the Department of Health is encouraging the holding of Christmas parties virtually due to the Omicron coronavirus threat,” he said.

From Dec. 17 to Jan. 7, he said, telcos and internet service providers should observe a “heightened level of emergency preparedness.”

The objective is to “ensure minimal disruption and downtime strictly complying with the prescribed service performance standards at all times.”

They were also directed to speed up their maintenance efforts, increase internet or broadband capacities, and ensure that business continuity and disaster recovery protocols are in place and functioning, 24 hours a day.

Major telecommunications companies are currently repairing damaged networks in typhoon-hit areas.

PLDT, Inc. and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. said Sunday that they were working to restore their communication services in Surigao.

“We assure our customers that we are working round the clock to address service issues and reconnect more areas that have been severely impacted by (typhoon) Odette,” they said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Globe Telecom, Inc. said it extended a one-day unlimited text offer on all its networks to typhoon-affected customers on Dec. 18.

“The promo comes with unlimited calls to Globe and TM numbers only. Affected customers will also receive a free one-month subscription to KonsultaMD (a telehealth service provider) for their medical needs,” Globe said in a statement.

On Friday, fiber internet provider Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. said it temporarily closed its business centers in Mandaue City, Roxas City, Iloilo City, and Cagayan de Oro City due to the typhoon.

“As of 3:30 p.m. (Friday), our network operations have been affected in the following areas: Iloilo, Capiz, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro and Davao,” it said.

“Rest assured, we are working to immediately restore service in these areas while ensuring the safety of our personnel,” it added.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin