Manila, June 23, 2003  (STAR) The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) has signed separate agreements with the University of the Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), involving key research and development projects on information and communications technology.

Manuel Pangilinan, PLDT president and CEO, said PLDT constantly seeks partnerships with the academe and the government in projects that could benefit not only the company, the academe or the government, but also Philippine society in general.

"Research and development on ICT is something the private sector, the academe and government can work on much more productively and much more efficiently if there is cooperation. We hope the country will reach greater heights in ICT through this partnership," he said.

"For 75 years, PLDT has been developing and innovating new products for our customers. We are committed to think ahead and remain on the cutting edge of the telecommunications industry and PLDT’s Innolab is a concrete step in that direction," Pangilinan said.

Under the agreement, PLDT, UP and ASTI will undertake projects that will include but are not limited to rural telecommunications, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), mobile telecommunications, broadband networking, toll online billing system and wireless communications.

Separate agreements for each project will be drafted to iron out details involving responsibilities and intellectual property rights, among other issues.

PLDT, for its part, has constructed its Innovation Laboratory or InnoLab at its Telecoms Training and Education Center building in Mandaluyong City where the experiments can be conducted.

The InnoLab, which was recently inaugurated, will also serve as a showroom for PLDT’s high-tech equipment and solutions for its corporate clients.

Ernesto Alberto, PLDT Corporate Business Group head, said this partnership will definitely redound to the benefit of the country, which will eventually lessen its dependence on foreign technology through this partnership.

"The beauty of this partnership and this InnoLab is that we will have a melting pot of innovative ideas from PLDT, ASTI and UP. We recognize that strengthening scientific cooperation is mutually beneficial and will promote, strengthen and modernize science and technology in the Philippines," he said.

He added that the InnoLab hits two birds with one stone because it will also serve as a showroom for PLDT’s corporate clients.

"Now it will be easier to conduct demonstrations and much more cost-effective, too. With our showroom, our clients will also be able to see complex and delicate telecommunications solutions at work. No need for setting up somewhere else," Alberto said.

Nerissa Ramos, PLDT Business Solutions head, said ASTI, which is mandated to conduct scientific research and development in the advanced fields of studies, including communications engineering, microelectronics and information technology, can extend its research activities through this partnership.

"It will certainly complement government’s overall efforts in the scientific field. Aside from that, our InnoLab is part of PLDT’s commitment to clients in presenting them what we can offer so they can decide on what technologies or services they need," Ramos said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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