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Smart is the most-awarded Philippine mobile operator at Asia Communication Awards

Wireless services leader Smart Communications (Smart) emerged as the most-awarded Philippine mobile operator in the prestigious Asia Communication Awards (ACA), receiving three citations in ceremonies held recently in Singapore. More details after the jump.

SmartNet, a groundbreaking mobile application platform from Smart subsidiary Voyager Innovations, won Best Content Service. Meanwhile, Project Zero, Smart’s empowering livelihood and environmental initiative for an Iloilo community, won the Social Contribution Award. Smart also received an honorable mention in the Best Place to Work category.

“We are happy that Smart was recognized on three fronts – for providing exemplary mobile services to Filipinos, for implementing a life-changing program for a poor community, and for being an outstanding employer to its 5,000 workers,” said Smart President and Chief Executive Officer Napoleon Nazareno.

“These awards inspire us to continue coming up with world-class services and corporate social responsibility programs for Filipinos,” he said.

The revolutionary SmartNet
SmartNet was recognized for making it easy for people to use mobile internet services safely and affordably. The platform, which has been downloaded for free by more than 1 million Android, iOS and Windows users, offers a suite of popular mobile applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Chat, and Yahoo! Messenger for free.

It also allows users to browse Smart’s news aggregator service Headlines, and use Yahoo! search and email services on their mobile phone without added data charges.

A key innovative feature of SmartNet is a widget called Safe Zone, which serves as the platform’s anti-bill shock solution. By simply pressing the widget’s “Internet button,” users can turn “off” all applications outside of the SmartNet suite of applications. If users want to access Internet services outside of SmartNet, they can just press the widget’s Internet button once more to turn “on” these services. Only then will regular data charges apply.

“SmartNet overcomes major obstacles standing in the way of more people being able to use mobile internet services – tight budgets and their fear of bill shock. It is a Filipino innovation that provides a model for other emerging markets where subscribers have limited budgets for internet services,” Nazareno said.

Zero Waste
Meanwhile, Project Zero won for empowering residents of a poor community in Iloilo by teaching them to make and sell fashionable items from Smart’s discarded merchandising materials such as tarpaulins.

Aside from donating materials, Smart also provided trainings and exposure to the Iloilo community so they would be able to market their products and sustain their livelihood on their own.

The initiative is called Project Zero because it promotes the use of zero electricity to create products that are zero in carbon-emission. It has zero waste because the available materials are used tarpaulin. It uses even the smallest of cuttings to achieve zero garbage. And because workers create their products within the community, carbon footprint is also lessened.

Happy, healthy workplace
The ACA also recognized Smart’s efforts to provide a healthy and happy environment for its employees. Smart’s honorable mention in the Best Place to Work category was based on the results of a survey the ACA had conducted among employees of different companies in the region.

This is not the first time that Smart has received recognition as an employer. Early this year, the company’s Live Well, Live More employee program was given an excellence award at the 48th Anvil Awards. Live Well, Live More is a holistic wellness program that includes sports festivals, workout sessions, and wellness seminars.

“Employees are the most valuable assets of any company, which is why it is important for us to ensure their well-being. Healthy and happy employees are more positive and productive, while unhealthy lifestyles among employees often translate to a less engaged workforce and decreased productivity,” said Annette Santiago, head of Smart’s human resource management and development.

Top contender
Smart was the top contender in this year’s ACA, having received eight nominations. It was the only Philippine operator shortlisted for the coveted Operator of the Year award, which it had won two straight times, in 2011 and 2012.

Smart’s “Live More” campaign, which encourages people to make the most out of life by connecting to the Philippines’ largest and strongest mobile network, was nominated for Best Brand Campaign. Two of Smart’s customer service projects were selected as finalists for Best Customer Service Initiative – the Jump Springboard Customer Education Program, which provides guests of the Jump Experience Center in SM Megamall with free and fun learning sessions about communications technology; and the Customer Ambassador Program, which entails the deployment of trained ambassadors in Smart Stores to quickly resolve visitors’ concerns.

Smart’s expanded implementation of the Dynamic Learning Program, a non-traditional teaching method developed by Ramon Magsaysay awardees Chris and Marivic Bernido, was also nominated for the Social Contribution Award.

Other major industry players shortlisted in this year’s ACA are PLDT, NTT Communications, Huawei, Telstra Global, Hutchison Global Communications, and StarHub.

Organized annually by London-based industry publication Total Telecom, the ACA recognizes the achievements of Asia’s traditional carriers, multimedia content providers, vendors, and other communication service providers.

Smart received the ACA citations just days after the company, along with creative agency DM9JaymeSyfu, won for the Philippines its first ever Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the highest honor given by what is considered in the industry as the Oscars of advertising.

DM9 and Smart won in the mobile category for Smart Txtbks, a campaign that used mobile technology to literally lighten the load of public school students.

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